You’ll find me with my knitting posse most Monday evenings at Barnes & Noble. Back when my husband, Gary, was fighting cancer, they were part of my cancer caregiver support network. And now in widowhood, they’ve got my back.
My fellow knitters didn’t sign up for either of these extra assignments. But by virtue of showing up every Monday and bringing their exquisite, fuzzy projects and sharing their stories and asking about my week, they’re a significant addition to my support system.
A friend sent a New York Times article entitled “The Health Benefits of Knitting,” by Jane E. Brody. I already benefit — mentally and emotionally — by hanging out with my knitting posse. But research also suggests, according to the article, that the actual act of knitting and crocheting can:
1. Lower heart rate and blood pressure
“Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure,” wrote Brody. (The key is getting past the learning curve — smile.)
2. Help people cope with a cancer diagnosis
Karen Zila Hayes, a life coach in Toronto, conducts successful knitting therapy programs for people coping with a cancer diagnosis or the serious illness of a family member.
3. Provide a calming effect for school children and prison inmates
Schools and prisons with craft programs report a calming effect and enhanced social skills for students and inmates.
4. Help with depression
Among respondents to a “Knit for Health & Wellness” website created by Betsan Corkhill, 54 percent of those who were clinically depressed said that knitting made them feel happy or very happy.
(Never mind knitting; just looking at this photo makes me feel very happy.)
5. Help aging, arthritic fingers remain more dexterous
The mantra of one of my physical-activity-expert friends is this:
Motion is lotion.
Motion is keeping those joints lubricated, those fingers well-oiled that could otherwise become stiff from inactivity.
6. Help control weight and smoking
When hands are holding knitting needles and crochet hooks, it is challenging to smoke, and there is less snacking and mindless eating out of boredom.
7. Enable people with pain to redirect their focus
When the focus is on the beautifully-unfolding project in hand, it can serve to reduce our awareness of pain.
8. Help stave off a decline in brain function with age
A random sample of 1,321 people ages 70 to 89 found that those who engaged in crafts like knitting and crocheting had a diminished chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.
9. Provide a means of social interaction that can support longevity
Those wishing to maximize the health value of knitting might consider joining a group of like-minded
knit-wits knitting enthusiasts, according to a study that indicates sustained social contacts have been shown to support good health and longevity.
Based on the power of my knitting posse and the number of items I’ve knitted, it appears I’m in for the long haul.
Which is the perfect segue for incorporating a photo I’ve wanted to use even since I snapped it at my friends’ place in Washington. (Thanks, Larry and Dianne!)
P.S. If you know of a knit-wit who needs the reassurance that what she’s doing is beneficial in so many ways, please share, tweet or pin!