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I learned to knit when I was in middle school. I taught myself with the Klutz Knitting Kit one weekend while camping with my family. I immediately recognized the calming, meditative aspect of it, and it became a simple hobby that I could pick up any time for five minutes or five hours.
1. The Arthritis Foundation actually recommends knitting as a way to improve hand dexterity. They spoke with Theresa Leto, an occupational therapist and former instructor at the University of Findlay (my alma mater!), who suggests warming up for knitting as you would for an athletic event. See some of her tips and tricks on the Arthritis Foundation's blog. It can also be helpful to perform some simple hand and wrist stretches to keep from cramping. (1)
2. Repetitive movement - like knitting - can increase levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin while also decreasing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. (2)
3. Your blood pressure drops while knitting. And research from Harvard Medical School's Mind and Body Institute showed an average decrease in heart rate of 11 beats per minute in knitters. (3)
4. Bilateral hand movement can have positive neurological effects and can improve hand-eye coordination. Some studies even suggest it can slow the progression of dementia. In fact, knitting has been used as a recreational therapy in patients with Alzheimer's, cancer and in neurological rehabilitation. (3)
5. Knitting can be an effective management tool for people living with chronic pain. By promoting relaxation, serving as a distraction and helping to rewire the brain's circuitry, knitting has helped some people find relief from pain. (3)
Have you experienced the health benefits of knitting or crochet? Tell me in the comments!