Who would have thought that, of all things, knitting could be useful for more than comfortable sweaters?
Knit for peace (knitforpeace.org.uk) is an initiative from the Charities Advisory Trust. It actually grew out of projects developed in Rwanda and India, which brought together women of traditionally hostile communities to knit clothes for street children and orphans. Knit For Peace paid these women and the clothes were distributed through local NGO’s.
Researchers working for Knit for Peace conducted a review of previous studies into the health benefits of knitting. The results are fascinating!
In 2007, Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute found knitting induces the body’s natural relaxation response and lowers the heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute.
Even more impressive, the Mayo Clinic examined the effects of activities such as knitting in 1321 older people, nearly 200 of who had mild cognitive impairment and were in the intermediate stage between normal ageing and dementia. What was found is that those who engaged in knitting, for example, were 30-50% less likely to have mild cognitive impairment than those who did not.
The review of studies also linked knitting to:
- Reduced depression and anxiety;
- Distracting from chronic pain;
- Increasing a sense of wellbeing;
- Reducing loneliness and isolation;
- Increasing sense of usefulness and inclusion in society.
One could ask: how is this possible?
Knitting relies on using refined areas of the cerebellum, like the neo cerebellum. One could think that activating such an important piece of the sensory-motor continuum can have an impact on non-motor issues that the cortex deals with. This could explain why a fine motor task can translate into results on a psychological level.
It could be one of the reasons why a mix of Posturology and Functional Neurology can help in these cases.