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Memorial Day Sales: 5 Health Benefits Of Shopping

Woman shopping
"Retail therapy” is more than it seems, offering various health perks to your mind and your body. Mark Allanson, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Shopping addicts, set aside your guilt this Memorial Day weekend - we've got good news. It turns out your mall addiction adds up to more than a hurting wallet - it increases longevity.

Based on a survey of 1,200 U.S. respondents, one in three Americans will be traveling over the Memorial Day weekend, reports TripAdvisor. This means hundreds of thousands of Americans will be getting a healthy perk on top of sales. Shopping sprees offer health benefits linked to positive physical and mental health for individuals of all ages.

And for those with a little more self-control, window shopping is just as advantageous. Lisa Tillinger Johansen, registered dietician and health educator at Kaiser Permanente, told Medical Daily. "I like shopping from a walking standpoint. It's movement which is good for our bodies and weight management. It's also a stress reliever and mood enhancer," she said.

We've outlined the top five health benefits of shopping below. They're sure to cast away that usual guilt. Shop 'til you drop, ladies!

1. Lifts your mood.

Shopping is associated with a sense of achievement. Think about the time you scored a vintage necklace from your local neighborhood thrift shop. You were elated to find a piece of jewelry that was unique and within your budget. The heightened emotions of happiness release endorphins, known as the "feel good" chemicals in your brain. Endorphins help you refocus your mind on your body movements, improving your overall mood.

A UK study conducted at Brunel University correlated the effect of shopping on the left prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is linked to pleasure and positive thinking. Researchers found that levels of dopamine increase during pleasurable experiences such as window shopping.

The surges in dopamine levels are more linked to the anticipation of a shopping experience versus the shopping experience itself. A study published in the Journal Neuron, researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford gathered volunteers to strap onto a MRI machine to show them pictures of products. Dopamine levels escalated when shoppers saw something they wanted to buy, which caused their MRI images to light up on the dashboard. The production of dopamine plays an essential role in behavior, cognition, mood, attention, working memory, learning, and so much more.

2. Lowers stress levels.

When you shop, you socially interact with people around you - whether they're fellow shoppers or sales associates. In addition, shopping with a best friend, partner, or family member provides a bonding experience that can reduce stress levels. In a study published by the American Psychological Association (APA), levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, were tested in kids who were with their best friend versus kids who were alone during a negative experience. Kids who were with their best friends during a negative experience produced less levels of cortisol than their counterparts, which suggests any form of bonding can be good for the mind, body, and soul.

Tillinger Johansen said to Medical Daily, "Shopping with others is good for social interaction. It can be good for our sense of belonging, affect our mood and relieve stress (hopefully)!"

Get your guy to come on your next shopping trip.

Men and women tend to think about clothes shopping differently. Trying to get your guy to go shopping with you can seem like a dead end until now. Both sexes were asked to think about clothes shopping and then plot a trip on a map in a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The results of the study showed men planned the most direct driving route whereas women were more likely to opt for the scenic route. Applied to shopping, the researchers found men tend to shop for specific items when needed whereas women browse for items to see what is available.

A solution to a much dreaded mall trip with your guy is to individually visit your designated stores and meet up for a quick lunch shortly afterward.

3. Improves mental acuity.

The mental, physical, and social engagement of shopping can keep your perception intact even in old age. When you shop, you are physically active by walking, going up and down escalators, and trying on clothes. The mental component of shopping is introduced when you revise your budget, check which on-sale item is better, and calculate your total cost. Socially, you meet up with friends or you hold small-talk with an employee at a department store.

It's essential to keep your mental acuity in focus as you age. Therefore, shopping can be a preventative health measure to dementia, an illness that affects many adults in the beginning of their 60s.

4. Live longer.

Grab a shopping cart if you want to live longer. The act of shopping can reduce the risk of death in the elderly by 27 percent, reports a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Daily shopping trips were linked to an increase in survival rate with the collection of data of approximately 2,000 elderly men and women aged 65 and over from Taiwan and the statistics of the country's National Death Registration from 1999 to 2008.

"For example, elders may maintain a mall walking routine, perhaps regarded as shopping activity, although more to do with the need to belong to a community or keep physically active in a safe and convenient environment," says the study.

5. Exercise.

Ladies, it's time to go hunt for those deals and bargains in your exercise gear! Shopping from one department store to the next while you carry heavy bags has been proven to be a good workout for the heart and body. Debenhams, a department store in the UK, tested ten shoppers, five male and five female, with pedometers and surveyed 2,000 female shoppers to calculate the health benefits of a shopping trip. The study found the average person can lose up to 400 calories by walking from shop to shop carrying heavy bags.

Women who spend significant amounts of time shopping have been linked to reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and other related health issues because of the physical activity.

Check out which stores have the best deals on Memorial Day weekend and test your new form of exercise by clicking here!

 

 

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