Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Health Benefits of Hand-Crafts (Knitting, Crochet, Quilting, etc.)

Do you crochet or knit? Have you ever wondered about the health benefits of crocheting or knitting?  You might be surprised to learn that leading universities and scholarly institutions have actually conducted a few research studies to prove that crocheting and/or knitting is excellent for your health.

If you live in an area where winter weather brings on “seasonal affective disorder” or winter blues, it might be a good idea to learn a hand-based craft such as knitting or crochet.  Experts recommend a hand-based craft because it can help to ease the symptoms of anxiety and/or seasonal depression.
What are the benefits?

May protect against aging:  A study from the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences in 2012 showed that doing crafts such as knitting or crochet decreased the odds of cognitive impairment and memory loss by 30-50% in some people.  They also noted that hand crafts such as knitting, crochet, patchwork quilting, etc., promoted the development of neural pathways in the brain, which are necessary to maintaining brain health.

Relieves Stress:  Knitting or any craft that has a repetitive movement, it can help to relieve stress because the repetitive movement helps to release serotonin, which is natures anti-depressant.  Feeling better relaxes you, and that lowers your blood pressure.

Hand-crafts require focus, which takes you away from thinking about your problems.   It is similar to meditation in that you become so focused on something else that you completely lose track of time, and you are so completely absorbed that nothing else matters.   So, when you start knitting or crocheting your problems outside the act of knitting or crochet are put on hold, because your brain can only process a certain amount of information at any one time.  

Healthy Hands:  Knitting or crochet can improve your dexterity which keeps your hands healthy.
Pain Relief:  Just as hand-crafts helps to relieve stress it also may help to relieve pain in much the same way.  Our brains can only handle so much information at any one time. So, if you are knitting or crocheting your brain has to focus on the the physical act of knitting or crocheting as well as concentrating on the pattern instructions.  In essence, when you crochet or knit you brain becomes maxed out and it is harder for your brain to process the pain signals.

Weight Loss:  Hand-crafts may help with weight loss.  Most often people eat when they are bored.  Doing hand-crafts occupy a person and make it less likely that a person will eat due to boredom.

Eating Disorders: The University of British Columbia conducted a small study with 38 women who had been diagnosed and were being treated for Anorexia,  They were given knitting lessons and free supplies and asked to report the qualitative effects of knitting on their psychological state.

The patients reported a reduction in their anxiety when knitting.   74% (28/38) reported it lessened their fears and thoughts associated with their eating disorder.  74% (28/38) reported it had a calming or therapeutic effect. 53% (20/38) reported it provided the knitter with a sense of accomplishment, pride and satisfaction.

Although this is a small study it suggests that hand-crafts such as knitting may benefit patients with diagnosed eating disorders. 

As you can see there has been some research on the positive health effects of hand-crafts. Even though most of the health benefits haven't been substantiated by a clinical study.   Most crocheters or knitters probably would agree that hand-crafts is beneficial to their health.

** The above information is provided for your entertainment/information only.   The statements above have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnoses, treat, or cure any disease.  Please see a licensed physician for the treatment of all medical conditions.

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