Living with credit, New products

Online shopping busts waistlines and budgets

Erica Sandberg

If you’ve been putting on extra pounds while also overspending, tech-based shopping may be the cause. It’s all too easy to slump over your laptop, tablet or smartphone and order away with a card on file. Soon the goods come to you, not the other way around.

And it’s only getting worse (or easier).

Advances in the shop-from-home experience intensify this no-movement movement. Tell Amazon’s Alexa what you want, and she’ll have it delivered. You never even have to lift a finger over a screen, eliminating the need to burn even a single extra calorie.

On Cyber Monday alone, Adobe Digital Insights found that online sales increased 12.1 percent over 2015’s biggest online shopping day. Shoppers didn’t work off all that stuffing and pumpkin pie going from store to store, but their credit cards sure got some exercise.

To understand how hard the ease of online shopping can be on our bank accounts and bodies, and what you can do about it, I turned to two experts.

Get up and shop, urges Manhattan-based personal trainer Matt Sauerhoff. “It’s definitely better for you,” says Sauerhoff.

“Sitting is the new smoking. Most of what I do these days is undo the adverse effects of it, including weight gain,” he says. “Humans are meant to be active, to hunt and gather! Technology is giving us less reason to move, and that’s a big problem.”

Real world shopping helps people spend rationally, too. “Increased physical activity creates improved cognitive function,” says Sauerhoff. “That’s a fact.”

Money-saving authority Andrea Woroch agrees. She  warns against relying solely on online purchases.

“You’re more likely to be distracted because you’re probably multitasking,” says Woroch. “Then you’ll make bad decisions, charging more than you should.”

Instead, visit actual stores with a list in hand, she says.  “When you’re there in person, you can stay focused,” says Woroch. “You’ll feel better and make fewer impulse purchases.”

I put this premise to the test this past week.

For me, sites such as Zappos and Groupon are super seductive, leading me to pant over irresistible deals (and later hyperventilate over larger than desired bills). Would hiking to my closest mall and walking around the shops benefit my wallet and waistline?

After listing what I wanted before I got to the stores and employing the health data app that came with my iPhone, I took off. By the time I was back home, I had taken an astonishing 15,715 steps! Plus, I stuck to my shopping list.

What I learned: Charging everything online may be easier, but if you want to unpack some pounds and curb your overspending, leave the house. For me, swiping a card has a stronger emotional impact than hitting the “buy” button. Turns out the in-store decision to spend made me hesitate and appraise each purchase. And I absolutely got my exercise in while I shopped.

So as holiday shopping kicks into high gear, consider visiting stores and tracking your steps on your phone or fitness devise. Like me, you may spend less than if you shopped online from the comfort of your home — and your legs, heart and wallet all will benefit.





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