Does Shopping Really Make You Live Longer?

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This morning listening to the radio I heard mention of a study that showed that shopping helps you live longer.  Excited I became (in the words of Yoda), so of course got online to see if I could find the source of the study.  It turns out the research is published in the Journal of Epidemilology and Community Health and is a legitimate one.  But the results are not quite what the brief mention on the radio news led me to believe.

Turns out, shopping does help you live longer, if you’re already old, and we’re talking food shopping, not clothes shopping.  You can  read about the study here if you’re interested.

But it did lead me to thinking about shopping and how it can connect us to community (which was one of the benefits described in the study).   When I had my first child, and in that first 8 months (before I was diagnosed with having post-natal depression (PND), but suffering from it all the same) I found that even a trip to the supermarket would make my day a little better, that small piece of adult human interaction with the checkout-chick (which I wasn’t getting at home with a newborn and little family support) became a life-line for me.

Even now, given that I work for myself (no colleagues to chat to at the ‘water cooler’) and if I don’t have any clients, sometimes I crave adult company (my dogs are not great conversationalists) and I’ve spent a day or two sitting in front of the computer writing and doing other business related tasks, I end up going stir crazy, and taking myself to the shops, not to buy (at least I can legitimately call it research, find out who is selling what) but for the interaction.

It’s made me wonder, how many people end up spending money they can’t afford because they need human interaction and shopping gives them some legitimacy to get it?

Do you notice that you tend to shop more when you’re in a particular mood or frame of mind?  What compels you to go shopping?

If you think you may be suffering from PND, please seek help, there are great organisations out there who want to help you (even if, like me, you just think  you need a good nights sleep, or you wouldn’t want to bother anyone).

http://www.beyondblue.org.au
http://www.panda.org.au/
http://www.netmums.com/pnd/

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9 Comments

  • I live alone, and there are weekends when I definitely Edna up shopping just to have something to do with myself. I clearly need to get back into ballroom dance or something, that used to be my human contact.

  • Hello Imogen
    Shopping for the interaction with others is one way to fill the cupboards with lots of unneeded 'stuff' – tell me about it lol
    I spent 7 rather unhappy years interstate away from family and friends, so with Dh at work I shopped almost every day for clothes and 'things' mainly in an effort to fill my days and have someone else to talk to. There was no problem with the finances – but I've just spent the past 9 years giving almost all of that 'must have' stuff and clothing away and realising how much money did go through my hands during that time.
    Cathy

  • I haven't read the study, but I believe it to be hard to distinguish between the actual shopping and the effects of social contacts, getting out of the house, actually moving you body… In the elderly, there's also the question of "Are the ones who shop better off than the ones who don't because they *do* shop or because they *can* shop (have the body fitness to do so)"? Hard to say. All I know is that it's always good to get your butt up from the sofa and do something. A study that I can't recall right now showed that old people live longer if they live in nursing homes where they can decide little things (i.e. which film they'll all watch together on Mondays) versus nursing homes where every decision is taken from them. That surely relates to the shopping study.

    Relatable Style

  • Weirdly, I've been shopping online a lot lately (not doing serious damage – buying kid jeans and sweets from UK) but I realized today that I'm really itching to buy myself something RTW from a store. Maybe if I do that, the online shopping bug will abate. Even though I love sewing, it takes so much effort and occasionally, I just want something I can come by easily. Instant gratification.

  • Wow, and there I thought for a second that we'd finally found the explanation for women living longer than men!!
    But yes, that makes perfect sense.
    And I do go out to the shops just to rejoin the human race, but it doesn't necessarily mean spending big, just looking (and not being a mainstream size, I do a LOT of looking)

    BTW Imogen, on a completely different subject, is it appropriate for me to ask you a couple of questions about shopping in Melbourse? I don't want to cross the boundaries between free recommendations and professional opinion. It's just that I'll be in melbourne next weekend (15th-17th, and thought I might get in some shopping on the Saturday, while my husband's at a conference, but, as a Sydneysider, I have no idea where to start.

  • I saw the same story and I totally agree with your observations. I know that I can get a bit of cabin fever (working from home, alone), and sometimes just dragging myself to the shops to get ingredients for dinner helps my day …

  • Tasty topic!

    I worked from home for 6 months at one point and I got serious cabin fever several times, and yes, my solution was to run to the nearby mall to shop + meet up with a friend or family member. That taught me how much I value water-cooler chats! I'll never work from home by choice again. It wasn't just a lack of human interaction though, it was also a lack of variety for the senses.

    The image of being locked up with a newborn and no adult company during the day is scary. I don't have any children yet, and I've a professional career. Maybe daycare from 6 months isn't so bad afterall? Do some people manage to hang out with fellow mom&baby's?

    There're better ways to get human interaction than shopping, I think: volunteering, dancing, attenting religious services would be my choices. But these are generally scheduled, whereas shopping can be done anytime.

    – tall & slim anon

  • Shopping definitely fills a void for me, and I've come to realize I'm an emotional shopper. When I'm feeling crappy/blue or can't concentrate, a good browse through a store will fix me up. I don't always buy something, but I'm definitely more open to buying things I normally wouldn't. Of all the things in the world, walking around furniture stores brings me the most peace. Hmmm…

    PS i was also a suffer-er (is that a word?) of PPD, but I didn't realize it until after my third child was born. There is definitely no reason to go through all of that. Ask for help! My life is exponentially better since I found help.

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