The health benefits of knitting

By Kate Hassett

The health benefits of knitting
Could happiness be just a needle and thread away?

Who knew that such a simple activity could provide numerous health benefits. From your physical to your psychological wellbeing, a needle and thread has the ability to transform the way we feel and think, one stitch at a time. The health benefits of knitting, therefore, can extend way beyond the cuddly feeling of a new jumper or a comforting scarf.

Health benefits of knitting

Stitching away stress

Partaking in craft has been known to decrease stress and anxiety levels and boost creative fulfilment.

A study conducted by the University of British Columbia in 2009 found that knitting was beneficial to patients who were suffering with eating disorders. The activity was proven to reduce “anxious preoccupations about eating, weight and shape control”.

The same can be said for other anxiety disorders according to Alton Barron, orthopedic surgeon and president of the New York Society for Surgery of the Hand, who said using your hands meaningfully triggers healthy engagement and activity in about 60 per cent of your brain. His wife, Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist with the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, said the rhythmic, mathematical nature of knitting and crocheting keep the mind absorbed in a healthy way, providing an escape from stressful thoughts but allowing for internal reflection.

Keeping you sharp 

Knitting has also been proven to stimulate cognitive activity and reduce the rate and severity of stress-related diseases. A report published in 2007 found that engaging in activities such as knitting and other crafts, stimulated the mind and promoted recognition, memory and awareness in older participants.

Healing your hands

The activity of knitting and using your hands in a non-abrasive way can be a fantastic way to stave off arthritis and tendinitis according to Alton, who lists the movement of knitting as a great way to prevent aggravation of the joints.

“If you let a joint sit, not only will it get stiff, but the actual cartilage will lose its structural integrity and break down,” he said. “Most of us grow up thinking the more you use something the more it wears out, but that’s not the case with cartilage.”

Knitting for mindfulness

It may be the word of the moment, but mindfulness is becoming increasingly important for both our physical and psychological health. Any activity that allows our minds to reconnect with the present and appreciate the moment is beneficial to our mental health and can be a powerful antidote to a plethora of health issues.

As a meditative activity, knitting can transform worries into nothing and creative a stimulating, yet calming pathway for your thoughts.

Read more: Baking for Therapy and Self-Empowerment

Read more: Health benefits of running


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