Getting arthritis doesn’t mean you have to put down your knitting needles.
In fact, research has found the hobby can distract from chronic pain, reduce depression and slow the onset of dementia.
The findings come from UK organisation Knit for Peace, which did a review of previous studies into the physical and mental health benefits of knitting.
Knit for Peace – which has a network of 15,000 knitters in the UK who knit for people in need – also conducted a survey of 1000 of its members.
Seventy per cent said they believe knitting improves their health, and that it made them feel relaxed. Respondents also revealed knitting helps them deal with chronic pain, with one in five saying it helps relieve the pain of arthritis.
Knitting was also found to reduce loneliness and isolation and allow older people to feel they are still useful to society.
The review cited a study of over-70s by the Mayo Clinic in the US, which found knitting was associated with decreased odds of experiencing mild cognitive impairments, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
And research from Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute in 2007 found knitting helps the body relax and lowers the heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute.
One case study, Beryl H, who is over 85, told how she gets pain relief from knitting children’s jumpers.
“I like doing it as it’s the only thing left that I can do in which I am productive and contributing as a live in a nursing home,” she said.
“It is something, which staff and other residents can talk with me about and it helps ease my pain.”
Just over two-thirds of Knit for Peace members are over 60. Some are as old as 100 and many are in their 80s and 90s.
The charity wants knitting to be more widely promoted because of its health-giving qualities.
Full report: knitforpeace.org.uk
This article first appeared on www.thesenior.com.au