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'Retail Therapy' Might Really Work
Date:4/7/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- A shopping trip-a-day may help keep the doctor away, not to mention the Grim Reaper, a new study from Taiwan suggests.

Researchers there found that elderly people who go shopping daily live longer than their less shopping-prone peers.

And "retail therapy" seemed to benefit men more than women, according to the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Why the connection?

"Frequent shopping among the elderly is related to increased walking -- a low-impact physical activity that can improve heart health as well as balance and coordination," said Kelly D. Horton, a research and policy specialist at the Center for Healthy Aging in Washington, D.C.

"Shopping provides an enjoyable activity and helps older adults feel included in their community," continued Horton. "In addition to physical activity, frequent shopping among older adults has also been related to improved nutrition intake."

This last point may simply be because more trips to the store means more healthy food in the house, said the authors, who are affiliated with the National Health Research Institutes in Zhunan, Taiwan. They also noted that the companionship of other people might also influence health.

The findings dovetail with the concept of "active aging," which indicates that higher levels of physical activity, economic activity and social and cultural engagement help with healthy aging.

For this study, Taiwanese researchers reviewed a nationally representative survey about elder nutrition and health conducted in 1999 and 2000. The questionnaires -- filled out by nearly 2,000 Taiwanese people over the age of 65 who were still living independently at home -- included questions about how often they shopped. The researchers also obtained information on the individuals' health, financial status
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