I’ve been knitting to stay sane for awhile now, and when I knit I’m not stuffing my face or running one worry after another through my mind. Knitting is a very Zen activity. It quiets the mind and body, and that’s a great thing!
I thought I’d share with you extracts from a variety of articles on the subject of knitting and its health benefits. You’ll feel better for knowing that your hobby is doing more than just producing mittens, sweaters, and afghans. And, what applies to knitting also applies to crocheting, which I do and you may as well.
Knitting has been called the “new yoga” for good reason. Famous for its relaxing, meditative qualities, knitting increasingly is being used in hospitals, clinics, schools and even prisons to help people lead healthier, happier lives. And there’s data to prove it.
A 2009 study published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders showed that when 38 women with anorexia nervosa were taught to knit and given free access to knitting supplies, they reported significant improvements. An impressive 74 percent said knitting lessened their fears and kept them from ruminating about their eating disorders; 74 percent lauded the calming aspects of the craft and 53 percent said it provided satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. [source: Craft Yarn Council]
I know that when I knit I am fully involved in my project. I even like “troubleshooting” a knitting booboo, for example changing several rows of purl stitches to knit stitches without tinking every row. It’s better to obsess over a knitting mistake than obsess over a meal, a health issue, or a financial constraint.
A 2011 study from the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences showed that doing crafts such as patch-working or knitting during middle age, combined with watching less television, decreased the odds of later cognitive impairment and memory loss by 30 to 50 percent, and promoted the development of neural pathways. [Source: The Sacramento Bee]
The rhythmic movements of knitting offer many of the same kinds of benefits as meditation, says Carrie Barron, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York and co-author of the book “The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness With Your Own Two Hands.” In addition, she says, seeing a project take shape provides a deep sense of satisfaction. “When we have a life-affirming project going on that grabs the self and gets it to work in a positive way, that is an antidepressant,” Barron says. [Source: The Washington Post]
Didn’t I say knitting was Zen-like?
Research from 2007 at Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Institute proved that knitting induces the relaxation response and lowers heart rate on average by 11 beats per minute. Blood pressure also drops when knitting. [Source: SD Dickens]
Women with high blood pressure can certainly benefit from knitting/crocheting, but it would really be great to see more men knitting, especially those with this health issue. Knitting also helps those with PTSD and those with chronic pain. WWI Soldiers with PTSD, who returned to England after battle in Europe, found knitting helped them overcome stress, and those who have suffered chronic pain have used knitting to ease their discomfort.
You’re a lucky person if you knit or crochet! It means you’re equipped to improve mind and body health. Try to pass on your skill to others so that they too can benefit.