The Benefits of Knitting for Brain Health

Knitting is a craft that has been around for centuries, but it has recently gained popularity as a way to improve mental health. A neuropsychiatric study found that participating in activities such as knitting could reduce the likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30 to 50 percent for older people. Knitting is especially good for this, as it requires you to use many parts of the brain at the same time. Recent research shows that fabric has a measurable effect on calming anxiety and relieving stress, and an international survey revealed a strong connection between fabric and feelings of calm and happiness.In addition to the activity itself, many weavers find benefits in the social nature of the fabric, whether they belong to a local fabric group or an online community.

In a clinical setting, a study of a group of people who have eating disorders showed that tissue had a significant effect on reducing anxiety and calming obsessive thoughts or worries. At a recent point meeting held at the Redfern Community Centre, former Sydney Rooster Ian Roberts talked about a career of suffering concussions in football, with fans making neurons in team colors to raise awareness of brain injuries in sports.Your mind is forced to make things work when problems arise, such as when you realize that you have dropped a stitch or put on a backhand instead of knitting. Simple topics like these help you with problem-solving skills and maintain a sense of calm that you will eventually need as you go through fabric and life.Fabric and other similar crafts have preventive or retarding effects on people who are at risk for dementia and are very soothing for patients who already suffer from this disease. A recent study conducted by Cardiff University in the United Kingdom also found that fabric has significant psychological and social benefits.

Finding a way to relieve chronic pain can sometimes lead people to unexpected solutions, and for many, knitting has become an integral part of pain management.The calming effect of repetitive tissue movements prevents adrenaline from acting and activates the parasympathetic nervous system to dampen the body's fight-or-flight response. Tissue has been shown to stimulate the brain to produce the hormone dopamine, which is a feel-good neurotransmitter. Creative activities such as knitting, painting and crafts, which involve working the hands in sync with the brain, give patients with dementia a natural increase in dopamine, called the “natural antidepressant”. But since the mind and body are closely connected, the health benefits of tissue could also extend to physical well-being.Over time and as you progress through your knitting journey, you'll develop a great deal of attention to detail, which is necessary as you progress through more complex patterns and designs.

The beauty of Neural Knitworks is how the project expands the scope of scientific knowledge by engaging participants with hands-on educational experiences that connect them with experts as they improve their own brain and mental health.As millions of us found ourselves stuck at home with nothing to do due to lockdowns, knitting became a great way to learn a new skill and pass the time while doing something creative and productive.

Some designers have even begun presenting incredibly creative knitwear that shows how knitting is a match for unconventional personalities.

In fact, the Waldorf Alternative School teaches first graders to knit before teaching them to read. Knitting is a great activity for all people, young and old, because it involves all parts of the brain at once.

Jane MacDonald
Jane MacDonald

I am of the author and owner of I Love Knitting. I first learned to knit when I was around five years old, and stop doing it when I hit my teens! I than picked it back up when I had my first child, and have since taught all three of my children to knit.

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