Knitting won’t just result in a new scarf — research has found the hobby can also reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia, and distract from chronic pain.
According to Knit for Peace, an organisation that knits 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 and carried out a survey asking 1,000 members about their knitting experiences.
“There is an enormous amount of research showing that knitting has physical and mental health benefits” said the report, “that it slows the onset of dementia, combats depression and distracts from chronic pain.”
They noted that research from Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body found knitting lowers the heart rate and decreases blood pressure, while a study from Mayo Clinic suggested those who knitted were 30 to 50 per cent less likely to have mild cognitive impairment such as dementia than those who didn’t.
Results of a survey of over 3,500 knitters worldwide, published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, concluded that “Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to wellbeing and quality of life.”
The review of studies suggests that knitting could reduce depression and anxiety, distract from chronic pain, increase a sense of wellbeing, and reduce loneliness.
The findings were also supported by Knit for Peace’s own survey of 1000 members, 70 per cent of whom are over the age of 60.
According to the survey, 92 per cent of respondents said knitting improved their health, 82 per cent said that knitting helped them relax and 92 per cent said that the hobby improved their mood.
Roughly 30 per cent claimed that knitting helped reduce anxiety and blood pressure, and 10.7 per cent of respondents said knitting helps them deal with chronic pain, relaxing muscles and relieving the pain of arthritis.
“It is a sociable activity that helps overcome isolation and loneliness, too often a feature of old age. It is a skill that can continue when sight and strength are diminished,” the report said.
One case study, named in the report as Beryl H, who is over the age of 85, said: “I can now only manage to knit children’s jumpers. I like doing it as it’s the only thing left that I can do in which I am productive and contributing as I live in a nursing home. It is something, which staff and other residents can talk with me about and it helps ease my pain.”