Shopaholics rejoice – reaching for those heels on the top shelf, working up a sweat while trying on multiple outfits in a cramped change room and charging purposefully from store to store in a bid to find the perfect dress can actually be good for your health.

Shopping is a great extra calorie burner,’’ says health and fitness coach Amelia Burton. “After all, how many people would spend six hours at the gym, yet us ladies can spend six hours shopping without batting an eyelid.’’

Research around the globe has attempted to calculate the health benefits of shopping, with the average woman said to burn close to 50,000 calories each year from retail therapy alone. Studies have also found many women feel exhausted after a day at the shops, and some feel more tired after shopping than visiting the gym.

Burton says she’s not surprised by the findings, as shopping burns about 160 calories an hour. Our leg muscles benefit most (from all the walking) while our arms also get a good workout from carrying shopping bags.

Women take an average of 7,305 steps each time they head out on a shopping spree – that’s almost six kilometres. Around three hours of shopping can help burn off the 495 calories in a Big Mac, while two hours can work off the 283 calories in a latte.

Hitting the shops for six hours a week (30 minutes every lunch hour plus a few hours after work or on weekends) is enough to burn off half a Pizza Hut pizza or three and a half Snickers bars. Keep up the same shopping routine for 12 months and Burton says you’ll burn a whopping 50,200 calories a year – the equivalent of 29 pizzas or 187 Snickers bars.

And if you’re really keen to find out just how beneficial shopping can be for your health, Burton suggests wearing a heart rate monitor, which will give you an accurate reading of the calories you burn.

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