Iím not trying to encourage any bad habits, but I must be the messenger of this potentially dangerous news: research shows that trolling the malls or department store-lined streets of a major city for the purpose of shopping has health benefits!
A 2008 study by Britainís Brunel University showed that shopping is associated with increased activity in the part of the brain linked to positive thinking and pleasure.† This is no surprise to those of us who have felt that release of mood-lifting endorphins as we spy that pair of beautiful earrings or sweater that we know would look so good on us.† Indeed, research shows that levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter released during pleasurable experiences, can rise sharply when shopping.† This mood enhancement, along with the social fulfillment many find when shopping with a friend, boosts the immune system and also helps keeps the brain agile.
All of this is based on the assumption that you enjoy shopping.† If you experience shopping as a drag, a drain, or a waste of time and money, then, be assured, a flood of feel-good endorphins coursing through your body will not be your experience.
In a different study, researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford strapped volunteers to an fMRI machine and recorded the brainís reaction to photos of various products.† When the subjects viewed items they wanted to buy, a whoosh of dopamine flooded to the nucleus accumbens, known as the reward and pleasure center of the brain.† However, the nucleus accumbens is also the part of the brain associated with addictionÖas in compulsive shopping addiction.
Hereís the best news: researchers found that the same positive effects of shopping can be had when simply window shopping.† So, if you want the feel-good, but donít want the spending-pain, leave the wallet at home, grab a buddy for an overdue visit, and enjoy the walking, the conversation, and the healthy pleasure of your favorite shopping mecca.