Research suggests knitting could save the NHS millions of pounds in treatments costs for depression.
Knitting won’t just result in a new sweater – the hobby can also reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia and distract from chronic pain.
The organisation Knit for Peace carried out a widespread research into previous studies analysing the benefits of the traditional craft after receiving testimonials from their 15,000 volunteers about how the hobby had improved their lives.
The group decided to investigate the matter after members reported improved overall health after taking up the hobby – and it turns out the relaxing craft can be credited for numerous health benefits.
knitting keeps me calm, relaxed.i have spend time with people and focus on the task in hand
aisha, customer at knit nottingham
A report led by Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute, found that knitting lowers heart rate, by an average of 11 beats per minute, and induces an “enhanced state of calm,” similar to that of yoga.
In addition to its calming effects, knitting a quilt or a pair of mittens can distract from chronic pain – as focus is turned elsewhere. And the repetitive movements required to create a pattern release calming serotonin, which can lift moods and dull pain, according to the findings.
A study conducted by Mayo Clinic in 2011, looked at a group of over 70 years olds and found that those who knit had a “diminished chance of developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.”
Additionally, the hobby, which is often associated with elderly, can help fight loneliness, a plague that affects 1.2 million older people in the UK, and increase a sense of usefulness and inclusion.
The studies say knitting “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”.
As the NHS spends more than £2 billion each year on blood pressure treatments, an annual £26 billion tackling dementia, and an additional £300 million on antidepressants, according to the NHS’s annual report, knitting could be the answer to lower medical costs.
So the next time your grandma offers to teach you to knit, take her up on the offer.
Or you could always turn to YouTube, where there are hundreds of knitting tutorials for beginners.
Some of the benefits include:
• Reducing depression and anxiety
• Distracting from chronic pain
• Increasing a sense of wellbeing
• Reducing loneliness and isolation
• Increasing sense of usefulness and inclusion in society.