Time to take out those needles: knitting can reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia, and distract from chronic pain.
According to Knit for Peace, a network of 15,000 knitters in the UK who "knit for those in need," there is substantial evidence to suggest that knitting is beneficial to the mind and body. The British charity conducted an extensive review of previous studies; plus, carried out a survey asking 1,000 members about their knitting experiences.
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This report only reveals what knitting hobbyists already know: it's a meditative hobby with calming effects.
The repetitive movement of "knit one, purl one" that results in a soft-to-the-touch scarf, a snuggly shawl, or a pair of mittens simultaneously releases serotonin in the brain, distracting from mental and physical pains. According to a survey published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81 percent of respondents described feeling happier after a session of needlework. Additional research conducted in 2007 by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Training Hospital found that the act of knitting lowers heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute, eliciting a state of relaxation. Knitting also boosts brain power: One study found that it reduces your chance of developing mild cognitive impairment by as much as 50 percent.
In Knit for Peace's own survey, their findings rang true to the research: 86 percent of respondents said that knitting helped them relax while roughly 30 percent claimed that it helped reduce anxiety and blood pressure, as well as counter depression. Other respondents reported that knitting helps to relieve arthritis and chronic pain.
It's enough motivation for us to pick up a new pattern today.