Knitting and crocheting are back in the trends again. Many have already cottoned on to the meditative benefits of these crafty pastimes, but did you know there are myriad hidden health benefits to knitting that could boost both your physical and mental health?
In no particular order, but each one equally impactful upon your health and mental state, here are the 10 surprising health benefits of taking up knitting or crochet. They could just become your new favorite hobby.
1. Knitting can calm you down
Knitting and crochet involve repetitive movements that allow you to induce a meditative state. Not only does the motion of knitting calm the body, but it also has the capacity to soothe the mind.
Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute found that knitting lowers the heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute in research conducted in 2007. Knitters can even achieve an “enhanced state of calm” similar to that of yoga or jogging.
2. Lower your blood pressure
Besides lowering the heart rate, knitting can also lower blood pressure by diminishing the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. When too much cortisol is produced, the heart and circulatory system take the strain, so knitting (or any other activity that promotes relaxation) could set you up for significantly better long-term health.
3. Improve your mental arithmetic
Knitting and crocheting are precise crafts. Both will require you to flex your counting, measuring, and multiplying skills in order to get the outcome you want, whether that’s a jumper, scarf, or something of your own design. Knitting math is predominantly subconscious, but your brain still reaps the benefit.
4. Sharpen your memory
It’s never too early to become mindful of the potential for cognitive decline later in life. As such, the memory games inherent to knitting are a great way to keep your mind sharp and your memory active. “Knit one, purl one” is an excellent mantra, but when to knit and when to purl is up to you and your memory!
It stands to reason that the more you knit, the better your memory becomes. It’s a mini-workout for your brain.
5. Keep you dexterous
The intricate, skillful hand movements required by knitting and crocheting are excellent for helping keep your hands steady and finger joints flexible. Maintaining joint flexibility will help safeguard against arthritis, but it’s also sensible to find a balance; take frequent breaks to avoid cramping or repetitive strain.
6. Help manage chronic pain
Knit for Peace’s survey of 1,000 of its own members discovered that of those in poor or very poor health, 92 percent said knitting improved their health. Yes, knitting keeps finger joints limber, but the hobby is also brilliantly distracting; knitting requires concentration, which depletes a person’s capacity to focus on their pain.
It works for the mind, too. Knitters who suffered clinical depression also reported feeling more distracted from their emotional pain after taking up the craft.
7. Eliminate “bored snacking”
People who take up a hobby like knitting tend to develop the ability to resist snacking. Idle hands often reach for the snack drawer, but if your hands are busy knitting, then you’re less likely to do so.
8. Reduce the risk of dementia
A study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry found that knitting can decrease the odds of age-related cognitive impairment, and in people who already have dementia, knitting can help alleviate the symptoms. The process of knitting can also help with apathy and depression.
How? Well, crafts like knitting and crocheting help the brain to create and maintain the neural pathways that keep the mind functioning in a healthy way.
9. Boost your self-esteem
Not everyone is born with an inbuilt self-confidence. Thus an activity that involves creativity like knitting can help boost your self-esteem. Once you put your skills to use and have finished making a scarf or jumper, you are likely to feel motivated with the result, which in turn will help you feel more confident.
10. Give you a sense of achievement
Turning a ball of wool into something wearable is no mean feat. Likewise, having a crafty project gives you a goal to work toward. Knitting also activates what Medical Bag calls the “reward system”; a hobby that creates a tangible end product allows you to feel like you’ve really achieved something.
And you have! That jumper, scarf, or children’s toy really takes on extra significance when you realize it could also be massively improving your mental and physical health.