Why holiday shopping can be good for your health

Aside from the aggravation large holiday crowds can cause during the shopping season, experts say shopping can be good for your health. This is great…

Holiday shopping has a number of health benefits. (Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images)

Aside from the aggravation large holiday crowds can cause during the shopping season, experts say shopping can be good for your health. This is great news considering the average person is expected to spend almost $900 this year while holiday shopping, according to the American Research Group.

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So what is it that holiday shopping does? According to experts, it releases one of the feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, similar to the reaction we have when experiencing any achievement. A report from Medical Daily revealed the results of a UK study conducted at Brunel University which suggested shopping directly affected the part of the brain that is linked to pleasure and positive thinking, increasing the levels of dopamine released into the body.

Dopamine, a feel-good chemical, increased even just at the thought of shopping for many people in the research.

There are other things holiday shopping does beyond create a sense of pleasure. Guy McKhann, M.D., a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University, told Women’s Health Magazine that shopping may help maintain mental sharpness as an individual ages. “People who are doing really well as they get older tend to be mentally engaged, physically active, and socially involved,” he said. “And women are all of those things when they shop.”

Let’s not forget about one of the most important aspects of holiday shopping: exercise. If you’re one of those individuals who prefer to shop online, you’ll miss out on this benefit, and it might just give you a reason to visit your local store this season. Holiday shopping usually means a few hours walking around the mall or traveling to a number of stores in your area. You’re constantly moving and you’re often carting gifts around with you. While this exercise benefit is great no matter what your age, research suggests the older you are, the better holiday shopping may be for you.

In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,   daily shopping trips were linked to an increase in survival rate among elderly men and women aged 65 and over.

“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,” wrote researchers in the report.

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If all of that isn’t enough incentive to get into gift-buying mode, another benefit of holiday shopping is the reduction of stress. Granted, there will be moments of frustration when you encounter lines, out-of-stock delays and grumpy strangers, but holiday shopping–especially when done with family or close friends–can be an enjoyable, social experience.