WATCH: The Countless Ways Knitting Can Improve Your Health and Happiness
Dust off those needles, y'all!
As far as hobbies go, knitting is easily one of the most productive. (Scarves for everyone!) And according to new research from Knit for Peace, a charity network of UK knitters, it's also one of the healthiest.
An extensive review of previous studies, plus a survey of 1,000 of their members, found that knitting could reduce depression and anxiety, slow the onset of dementia, distract from chronic pain, and increase overall sense of wellbeing.
In her 2009 book, The Culture of Knitting, Joanne Turney discussed the magic of knitting as a repetitive activity, which can create "a space for contemplation" and induce "an enhanced state of calm,"—hardly the effects of idle busy work.
Scientists also noted that knitting releases the mood-regulator serotonin in the brain. Research published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy in 2013 found that a staggering 81% of respondents described feeling happier after a knitting session.
And the Zen-like trance that accompanies repetitive hand motions and the soothing clicking of the needles isn't just in your head. A study by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Training Hospital found that the act of knitting lowers heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute, signifying a sizeable increase in relaxation.
Knit for Peace's findings supported years of scientific research. A whopping 92% of respondents said that knitting improved their mood; 82% said knitting relaxed them; and 65% said knitting for others made them feel useful.
If that isn't reason enough to dust off those needles, we don't know what is!