The secret to a long life

It may come as old news to many women, but it seems a bit of retail therapy really is good for you.

A day at the shops can help you live longer, says a study.

And surprisingly, the benefits are actually greater for men.

The study even suggests the long-term survival benefits of shopping are better than going to the gym.

Seeing friends and just people-watching can stave off loneliness and improve psychological health, suggests research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

It looked at almost 1,850 people aged 65 and over living independently at home in Taiwan, who were asked how often they went shopping.

The researchers then tracked how long each of the participants lived by linking individuals to national death registration data between 1999 and 2008.

They found those who shopped daily lived longer than those who shopped less frequently, even after taking account of people’s physical or other health problems.

Going to the shops every day cut the chances of a participant dying during the period of the study by more than a quarter compared with those who don’t shop regularly.

Older men who frequently popped out to the shops had the best survival record, with a reduction of 28 per cent in their chances of dying, while older women saw slightly less benefit with a 23 per cent cut in dying.

Researchers led by Dr Yu-Hung Chang at the National Health Research Institutes, in Zhunan, Taiwan, accept that those who shopped regularly may have been in better health to begin with.

They said: ‘An elder who shops less for food would be at risk of poorer diet quality necessary to maintain health. A vicious cycle that involves limited shopping and poor diet could evolve for elders.’

But the study added: ‘In shopping venues, socialising with, or watching others can provide social and mental benefits.

‘Compared with other types of leisure-time physical activity, like formal exercise, which usually requires motivation and sometimes professional instruction, shopping is easier to undertake and maintain.’