Knit one, purl to good health
Knitting always seemed like something you did when you had lots of time on your hands – literally. But the health benefits recently touted in the media may make everyone rethink this notion and start picking up those needles now. Knitters old and new are touting its benefits from helping with arthritic hands and joints to a productive stress reliever to an invaluable mental exercise to assist with concentration and cognitive skills.
Some folks start knitting to keep themselves from reaching for cigarettes or food. As long as their hands are busy knitting, there isn’t the compulsion to smoke or eat out of boredom. While this isn’t a scientifically-based approach to weight loss or smoking cessation, it has proven to be effective for many.
And, people are finding that knitting reaps other health benefits as well. For starters, knitting is therapeutic, helping people with stress. Study after study illustrates the value for all ages, men and women, and in a variety of settings. Project Knit Well documents numerous stories of how knitting helped people through chemotherapy, parents at their babies’ or children’s sick bedsides, or individuals dealing with chronic health conditions. Knitting has also been instrumental in helping clinicians who work with seriously ill patients decompress and deal with compassion fatigue. (See “Combating Compassion Fatigue Among Ocology Nurses: An Exploration of a Knitting Intervetion”, Anderson, Lyndsay W MSN, OCN(R) FMP-BC; Gustavson, Christina U; Clinical Journal of Ocology Nursing; February 2016.)
One of the chronic health conditions that knitting may actually be a recommended exercise is arthritis, where the act of knitting is therapeutic for the hand, finger and wrist joints. And then there is the cognitive benefit of knitting. Much like playing an instrument, doing crosswords, and creative writing, knitting provides wonderful mental exercise.
So, maybe it’s time to dust off grandma’s knitting needles, or invest in some newer models to knit your way to better health!