Senior buy-in: Study says shopping a healthy habit for the elderly

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Seniors who engage in shopping every day, or almost every day, stay healthier longer than those who don't get out of their homes as frequently, according to a new study.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Taiwanese researchers found that frequent shopping among seniors is associated with low-impact physical activity and helps them feel involved in their communities, HealthDay News reported. Researchers said this finding fits into the “active aging” concept — the idea that staying active via physical, social and economic activity results in healthier aging. Many long-term care providers in this country regularly transport residents to retail venues — in part, to encourage activity.

Researchers analyzed data from 1,850 participants and found that about half never or rarely went shopping, while 22% said they shopped two to four times per week. While the shoppers tended to be younger, the once-a-day shoppers were 27% less likely to die than those who never shopped, even after adjusting for physical and mental impairment. The investigators wrote that shopping is an excellent way to experience leisure time and physical activity, though experts cautioned not to overreach.

“I would not conclude that shopping itself increases longevity. The characteristics of individuals that enable them to shop are associated with greater longevity," S. Jay Olshansky, professor of public health at the University of Illinois, told HealthDay. "Shopping requires that you physically move from one place to another, be able to handle money, make decisions, etc. All of those characteristics ... are linked to health."

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