Knit for Peace UK, an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust, reports that knitting leads to a healthier population, reducing depression and anxiety; slowing the onset of dementia; and distracting from chronic pain.
Knit for Peace has a network of 15 000 knitters in the UK who “knit for those in need”.
“There is an enormous amount of research showing that knitting has physical and mental health benefits, that it slows the onset of dementia, combats depression and distracts from chronic pain. It is an activity that can be continued into extreme old age,” the report states.
“It 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.”
Using a £50,000 grant from the Big Lottery Accelerating Ideas Fund, researchers working with Knit for Peace conducted a review of studies into the health benefits of knitting.
A 2012 study from the Mayo Clinic examined the effects of activities including knitting, quilting and playing games in 1,321 older people, nearly 200 of whom had mild cognitive impairment and were in the intermediate stage between normal ageing and dementia. The researchers found that those who engaged in crafting, computer activities, knitting and reading books were 30 – 50 percent less likely to have mild cognitive impairment than those who did not.
Knit for Peace survey of its members
The initiative unites knitters across the UK who make creations that are distributed to over 200 outlets, including hospitals, women’s refuges, refugee drop-in centres, prisons, community groups, hospices and developing countries.
The majority (70 percent) of respondents said they believe knitting improves their health, with the main reason (86 percent) being that it helps them to feel relaxed.
One in ten participants (10.7 percent) said knitting helps them deal with chronic pain, with almost one in six (14.3 percent) saying it relaxes their muscles while one fifth (21.4 percent) believe it helps relieve the pain of arthritis.
More than a quarter (26.1 percent) also attributed knitting to helping them reduce their blood pressure, usually because of the calming, therapeutic nature of the hobby.
According to a report from Age UK and The Campaign to End Loneliness, 1.2 million older people are termed ‘chronically lonely’ at any given time in the UK. The latest report suggests knitting could help combat this, with knitting groups providing a sense of community while individual knitting helps pass time enjoyably. More than half (64.8 percent) of the Knit for Peace community said taking part in the initiative “makes them feel useful”.
WATCH: The health benefits of knitting