If you’re a knitter, chances are you already know how relaxing knitting can be. Did you know, however, that there can be long-term health benefits of knitting? Recent studies support anecdotal evidence that the hobby can have a positive impact on knitters’ well-being.
Knitting can help fight depression. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapyfound that of 3,500 knitters surveyed, 81% felt happier after knitting and over half felt much happier. Why might that be? There’s an old saying, “In the rhythm of the needles, there is music for the soul.” Some research suggests that the rhythm and creativity of knitting has similar effects to meditation, easing anxiety and allowing a calming outlet for strong emotions (CNN, Washington Post). Especially for those who feel creatively stifled or constantly rushed, time spent knitting can create a powerful sense of “me time” that elevates a knitter’s overall mood.
For many of the same reasons, knitting also proves therapeutic for people who suffer from dementia and other cognitive impairments. Because the activity engages multiple lobes of the brain and demands the knitter’s concentration, it can help slow the progress of mental aging. On the other hand, knitting can help prevent cognitive deterioration. A 2012 study found that in a sample of over 1,300 seniors, those who read, played games, or engaged in crafts such as knitting were 30 to 50 percent less likely to have mild mental impairments (Washington Post).
A Healthy Distraction
Knitting can also be therapeutic for people with chronic depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. A 2009 study found that when women with anorexia nervosa were taught to knit, 74 percent found that the craft eased their anxiety and helped prevent ruminating thoughts. 53 percent also found that knitting gave them a sense of accomplishment (Craft Yarn Council).
As if you needed more reasons to knit! Now, when you knit a sweater or cast on a simple scarf, you can enjoy the knowledge that your favorite craft is good for your mind and mood, too. Plus, your family and friends can benefit when you use special occasion knitting patterns to create Christmas gifts, housewarming presents, and other projects to pass the goodness on.