Is online shopping damaging our health?

According to the Office for National Statistics, 90 per cent of adults in the UK have access to the internet and 75 per cent of these individuals buy products online. As a tech savvy nation, are we relying too much on online shopping to the extent where it is affecting our health? Here at Fashion North we investigate the affect that online shopping is having on our physical, mental and environmental health.

With 77 per cent of adults buying goods and services online, it is clear that this is becoming the preferred way to shop. The Office for National Statistics found that younger people are the most frequent online shoppers compared to the older generation. Although, it is clear that everyone is keen to learn as more and more of the older generation are jumping on the online shopping bandwagon.

As this is becoming the preferred way to shop, it is important to realise the affect this is having on our health as a whole. When choosing to stay indoors to find the best bargains online, this could be impacting your physical health drastically. It is recommended by the NHS that adults should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes (moderate exercise) or 75 minutes (vigorous exercise) a week.

So, if exercise in general may not be your cup of tea, we are sure shopping to find what your heart desires may be. Therefore, making sure you do simple and enjoyable tasks such as weekend shopping sprees to meet the recommended levels, may be a contributing factor in lowering heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Without these little trips to the shops, this may result in excessive sitting at your computer screen. Studies show that there is a correlation between obesity and sitting for long periods, the NHS suggest that this is due to it slowing down your metabolism which can affect many of our bodily functions.

Although there is no better feeling than the delivery driver knocking at your door, it is advised that taking a trip to your local shopping centre is going to benefit you more in the long run. The NHS also suggest that strengthening our muscles is also essential to maintain bone strength and is key in maintaining a healthy weight. We all have experienced the struggle of so many shopping bags it feels like it is stopping our circulation, right? Turns out this is actually a form of exercise.

The power of online isn’t just affecting our physical health, it is also affecting our mental health without us even realising. National Lead for Adult Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, Justin Varney, said: “Online shopping reduces people’s social contact and could contribute to loneliness as people simply aren’t going out, meeting people and interacting in shops as much.

“Although, it could be worth considering that lots of people shop online on their phones and on the move.”

Although this suggests that online shopping is damaging our mental health, mental health advisor at Loving Mental Health, Judith Critchley, gives some insight into how online shopping could benefit individuals that may suffer with anxiety. She said: “Yes online shopping does reduce social contact, but if you are busy and can’t fit shopping in then online is an option. Also, people with anxiety may not like large crowds.”

She continued to discuss how the online world as a whole is a contributing factor to some mental health problems. Judith said: “I think that social media can disconnect us from the real world.”

Another way online shopping is damaging our health is the amount of time we are staying indoors. This could either be to stay in for a parcel that you have been waiting for or just a day of browsing the online shops. As a mental health advisor, Judith emphasises the importance of leaving the house even if it is for short bursts of time. She said: “It is important to get out and about each day if possible.

“We need to get fresh air, to be in green spaces and to talk to people regularly. If we are physically active then we can feel better mentally. Parcels can be left elsewhere.”

It could be seen as a common belief that online shopping may be better for the environment as it reduces car/bus/train journeys to shopping centres. Although, research has been done to suggest otherwise. The number of returned parcels may not be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not online shopping is better for the environment.

Delivery vans and returning parcels both result in CO2 emissions, the University of Newcastle in Germany have conducted research to support the negative effects of online shopping. They suggest that the only way to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas is if the online order that you place is three or more journeys to your local shopping centre or if your parcel is of 25 items or more.

Overall, online shopping may be the more convenient solution to cure our shopaholic craving but could be damaging our body and environment in small doses. Although, it is not all bad news. We now know that our favourite pass time can now be considered a form of exercise.

Go out, treat yourself, save your body and environment at the same time.

And be sure to tag us in your buys on Instagram @Fashion_North!



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