We all watched in awe and a little wonder as British diver Tom Daley(27) knitted his way through the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. His Instagram account @madewithlovebytomdaley has since shot up to over 1.4million followers and knitting has become uber cool amongst the hipster generation.
Tom’s creations are without a doubt fabulous but you don’t have to tell us old hands, that knitting is cool. But did you know that knitting is also good for your health? Daley shared with the nation how knitting has become his way of relieving stress and finding calm and mindfulness. But, don’t just take Tom’s word for it, we’ve found 5 key health benefits of knitting that will have you reaching for a pair of needles before we can say knit one, pearl one!
1) Knit to Reduce Blood Pressure and Stress
Better than yoga – a study from Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute revealed that knitting can help induce the relaxation response and lower the heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute. The rhythmic and repetitive quality of knitting can create a space for contemplation and induce an improved calm state.
2) Chronic Pain Relief & Knitting
There are many anecdotes on the benefits of knitting for the management of chronic pain and they are consistent globally.
Research tells of repetitive movements inducing meditative-like calm and enabling symptom distraction, as well as other psychological and social benefits.
A US study suggested that cases of depression are rising despite an increase in anti-depressant prescriptions. One of the reasons this is happening is because of the reduction in effort and reward based activities.
3) Knitting to Help Counter Depression
Activities such as knitting stimulate the reward system because they have a tangible end product. Put simply – being able to create something from nothing with your own two hands, can increase ones feelings of usefulness and inclusion.
And then giving the product of your efforts can certainly cheer you up. The gift that keeps on giving?
We are all familiar with the saying “it’s good to talk” and evidence suggests that knitting can help promote social networks, reducing loneliness and related depression. The rise in popularity (thanks Tom) and subsequent increase in both off and online knitting groups is testimony to the power of knitting to connect people. Find a Knit & Natter group near you – visit UK Hand Knitting.
4) Giving back by Knitting
Every year, Innocent Drinks and Age UK team up to encourage customers to knit tiny bobble hats for Smoothie bottles. It raises money and awareness, as well as being a lovely thing to do.
5) Positive Ageing
Many studies have highlighted the importance of creative arts in positive ageing.
Keeping mentally stimulated is important as we grow old. Move aside Suduko, a large population study of over 70’s demonstrated that engagement in craft activities, including knitting, was associated with decreased odds of experiencing age-related mild cognitive impairment. Plus you get a scarf, jumper or whatever at the end of it, certainly a win win in our books!
6) And if you're still undecided
We’ll leave you with some wonderfully positive statistics from international charity – Knit for Peace which has over 15,000 knitters in the UK alone. A survey of 1000 of those knitters revealed that
- 92% felt knitting improved their health
- 82% said knitting relaxed them
- 65% said knitting for others made them feel useful
- 92% said knitting improved their mood.
The beauty of knitting is that whether you’re knitting for personal satisfaction, for a grandchild, or because it makes you feel good it’s just a lovely thing for all ages and ability.
Content contributor – Ruth Riley