By Sean Zucker —
It’s the holiday season again, which besides extra drinking, eating and stress, means one thing—excessive shopping.
While it would be natural to assume that people buy gifts online, people still flock to brick-and-mortar shops. The United States Department of Commerce reports that in-store purchases are up nearly 22 percent in 2022 from the previous year. And this data is only from November before the surge of holiday shoppers. The department points to lifted mask mandates among a general lessening of Covid-related concerns as causes for the uptick. Besides, these people may want to get out and mingle, even if it means confronting waves of haired holiday shoppers.
But the inherent stress aside, there is at least one additional boost to expressing consumerism out in the wild. Experts suggest that walking around stores and malls can generate a decent workout. It might even offset some of that inevitable weight gain that comes with the season.
Okay, if hitting the stores at this time of year feels exhausting, there’s a good reason. Consumer Reports notes that Americans spent an average of 15 hours a year holiday shopping. Specifically, women spent 20 hours, and men spent about 10 hours. Combined with the Commerce Department’s reported increase in on-site purchases, that’s a lot of time people will spend on their feet over a short period of time. Consumer Reports boils all this down to three hours standing in line and up to 17 hours walking around trying to figure out what to buy. Luckily, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Very Well Fit notes that for the average person, 60 minutes of walking in a store or mall will result in about two to four miles or 4,000 to 8,000 steps total. By that metric, someone spending 15 hours gift shopping will walk between 30 to 60 miles or 60,000 to 120,000 steps.
The number of calories burned walking a mile depends on a person’s size and pace. But it is estimated that a person weighing 140 pounds walking at a slower pace burns about 75 calories a mile. It means someone logging 60 miles of walking from shopping could burn close to 5,000 calories.
Healthline adds that a 30-minute walk will burn calories, strengthen the heart, lower blood sugar, boost the immune system, improve mood and increase energy. Not to mention, if done regularly, it can help prevent arthritis, fight off infections, and battle depression. Moreover, walking at a fast pace might even extend one’s life, lowering their risk of death by 20 percent. It’s also one of the easiest workouts available.
Beyond walking being a wellness boon overall, doing it in stores presents its unique benefits. Very Well Fit states that mall walking has the advantage of being inside and avoiding the possible harsh weather and dangerous car traffic of outdoor activities. Additionally, there should be more accessible food, water, bathrooms, security and even medical attention if necessary.
Does this mean the mass consumerism chaos attached to the holiday season is healthy? Probably not, but it may just have some hidden benefits.