Making regular trips to the store may be a sign of healthy aging, says a new study that adds a new twist to retail therapy.

Active aging, including physical, social and economic activity, are known to be key to healthy aging, researchers in Taiwan say.

In this week's issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers found people aged 65 and older in Taiwan who shopped more tended to be smokers and alcohol drinkers. But they had better physical and mental health than those who did not shop often.

"Shopping captures several dimensions of personal well-being, health and security, as well as contributing to the community's cohesiveness and economy, and may represent or actually confer increased longevity," the study's authors wrote.

The study looked at 1,841 people who lived independently at home. Participants answered questions about how often they shopped, and their mental and physical capacities, age, gender, education, ethnicity, financial and employment status, lifestyle factors, and any long-term medical conditions were studied.

About half of the 1,850 participants said they never or hardly ever shopped, while 22 per cent shopped two to four times a week and 17 per cent shopped every day.

Elderly who shopped every day had 27 per cent less risk of death than the least frequent shoppers, the researchers said.

Men also benefited more from everyday shopping than women.

The researchers acknowledged that shopping could be linked to better health in the first place, such as making daily trips to the market for fresh fruits and vegetables. People who shopped may also be the fittest and most social.

Shopping could be an easy way to get physical activity for seniors, the team suggested.

"Its informality makes it a more attractive alternative than more prescriptive approaches to healthy aging," the study's authors wrote.