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Do Shopping Trips Help You Live Longer?

Study Suggests ‘Retail Therapy’ Increases Longevity in People Over 65

What Does It Mean? continued...

Visiting stores didn't need to end up with a new pair of shoes or another purchase. It could be more about a nice stroll with friends.

Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health online, the authors say: "Shopping captures several dimensions of personal wellbeing, health and security, as well as contributing to the community's cohesiveness and economy, and may represent or actually confer increased longevity."

One of the authors, Mark Wahlqvist, MD, PhD, visiting professor at the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan, tells WebMD by email, "It is of particular interest in that it provides apparent benefit for the less socio-economically advantaged (the poorer) and for men."

Compared to the West, he says there's a cultural difference, "which encourages both purposeful and recreational shopping -- along with the traditional Chinese love of buying and selling."

Reaction of Experts on Aging

Tom Kirkwood, PhD, the director of the Institute for Ageing and Health and professor of medicine at Newcastle University in the U.K., tells WebMD by email: "While it’s tempting of course to suggest that 'shop till you drop' is a recipe for healthy old age, the real picture is doubtless more complicated than this.

"Those who shop most may be the fittest and most socially engaged. Both these factors are known to be associated with better underlying physical and psychological health. They may also be better off financially, which we know is associated with greater health in old age. As the authors acknowledge themselves, we should be cautious before trying to draw any firm conclusion that retail therapy itself actually causes healthy longevity."

"In short, we do not fully understand what the basis of the shopping-favourable mortality linkage is, but it makes sense," Wahlqvist says. "It merits much more interest and research!"

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