The Surprising Impact of Knitting on Your Health

The Surprising Impact of Knitting on Your Health

My beautiful Nan was rarely without a pair of needles and a knitting project in her hands and for most of my childhood, I wore many of her gorgeous creations. So much so that I suspect I was born with the soothing click clack sound of knitting and crochet needles in the background, just like mood music.

Nan was what I would call a high-end knitter – there was seemingly no stitch or design that she could not do at top speed. She passed her knitting and crocheting skills onto my mum who in turn taught my siblings and myself to do the same. The actual LEVEL of skill has not necessarily made it down the line and it may take me a few years to finish a project but I can knit and I love it for so many reasons.

The great thing is – this creative hobby is good for your health and wellbeing too. Although Nan is no longer here to ask, I would hazard a guess that it is one of the reasons that she was always so happy and a dab hand with numbers.

What are the health benefits of knitting and crocheting?

Stress relief

In our time poor world, it is so easy to get caught up in trying to do twenty things at the same time, aka multi-tasking. Hordes of us believe that this is a prized skill and do the proverbial octopus dance every day. Clinical research shows that the reality of multi-tasking is quite different. We are not wired to juggle several tasks at a time because we just can’t concentrate and focus on any of them, resulting in lacklustre performance and complete lack of effectiveness in our day-to-day lives. Knitting and crocheting makes you focus on one thing at a time and in the process is an amazing stress relief activity. For me, I cannot think about another thing while knitting (the fear of dropping all those stitches is all too much) and what a joy that is.


Have you ever heard of the Blue Zone’s?

Blue Zones are five regions in the world where people tend to live the longest (and also happiest) lives. Ikaria – Greece, Sardinia – Italy, Nicoya Peninsula – Costa Rica and a seventh day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California are the five zones. Eating a mostly plant based diet is considered to be one of the key characteristics they have in common, together with eight others. Interestingly, one of the outstanding characteristics that they share is living as part of a community, whether it is faith based or meeting up once a week for a knitting class. It’s all about connection.

Hobbies like knitting and crocheting are the perfect conduit for connection and sharing.

It’s all in the hands

We all know that regular exercise is vital for good health but what about exercise for our hands? These essential body parts are usually busy supporting us in everything we do and often get overlooked in the care department. Knitting and crocheting increase mobility and blood flow in the fingers and hands, keeping them supple and flexible.

Smart Brain

There is research that shows that actively doing craft activities like knitting and crocheting, promotes the development of neural pathways in the brain that help to maintain cognitive health. Clearly, this is super important, as we get older. Deciphering patterns and instructions (not one of my strengths I must admit) plus the constant counting are very useful activities for brain health.

Creativity expert Dr Erika Jacobson, says that when we are thinking creatively we are being flexible, embracing ambiguity and seeing connections that we didn’t see before, therefore we are firing up new pathways in our brains. We may also be having fun, being playful and self-expressive, and this, if nothing else, reduces our levels of stress significantly, which has huge impact on our wellbeing.


I could not count the number of pullovers, scarves and beanies/hats that have been crafted with love and gifted to me by my Nan, mum and friends over my life. Think about the charity groups and organizations that knit for people in need around the world that do just that too.

Giving makes us feel good because we get what researchers call a ‘helpers high’ or a distinct physical sensation associated with helping. Other neuroscience studies show that acts of giving decrease stress and contribute to enhanced mental health while boosting our happiness and performance levels.

A work of art

There is no doubt that there are many knitters and crocheter’s out there that can produce pieces that are not only practical but also works of art. Take yarn bombing for example. This global phenomenon can be seen all over the world adorning street signs, light poles, trees or anything that sits still really! Take a look around you when next out and about and see if you can spot one – they are usually bright, colourful and a feast for the eyes. There are several studies around the world that show that an appreciation of the arts appears to improve health and well-being, particularly in men. Although knitting and crocheting were not specifically mentioned in these studies, I feel confident that yarn bombing fits the bill perfectly.

Watch it grow

Don’t you just love watching something grow before your eyes? That is one of the most rewarding things about knitting and crocheting – whatever it is that you are working on just keeps growing. It gives you instant reward and a sense of achievement, which is linked to a healthy self-esteem and sense of purpose.

Have you got a project that you would like to share? I’d love to hear about it.




7 thoughts on “The Surprising Impact of Knitting on Your Health

  1. Hi Julie
    I love this post. I come from a family of makers. In turn I too am a maker and can turn my hand to pretty much anything. My Gran taught me to crochet when I was seven or eight and I have not stopped since. I sew, crochet, knit, felt, spin, dye wool, embroider, cook, garden… My craft practice is a great source of joy, I find it relaxing, the presents I make a very personal and the recipients are delighted. As an aside, as you say wrestling with patterns keeps building new neural pathways and I have really strong hands which I credit to all the handwork I have done for 50 odd years. And I love the self-sufficiency aspect – I am not reliant on having to buy things as I can make them, whether it’s a dress to wear to a wedding, a shopping bag, jumper, shirt for my husband…. the list is endless.

    My Gran had a debilitating stroke in her early 70s but through persistence got her fine motor skills back and she took up water colour painting!

    You mentioned men knitting – a family friend in his late 80s is still knitting fine lace shawls interspersed with complex aran jumpers for his family and his brain is sharp as a tack!

    Wish I could attach a photo. cheers!

    1. Well Gill, you are a little more advanced than me – I seem to be able to do only one thing at a time! Your Gran sounds very inspiring and determined to say the very least and as for your family friend, there should be more of it! Thanks for your lovely response.

  2. Hi Jules I currently have 50 odd balls of blue stuff that I keep trying to turn into a throw for my bed. I’m learning to crochet. Just keep clicking. The dog took off with my work the other day and I’m now a few rows shorter. Oh well those rows weren’t very good anyway 😂😂. Makes me laugh anyway. 😁

    1. Those dogs! And cats for that matter. Mine has actually nibbled quietly through a ball while I have been industriously working away. Lets just say there are a few knots in mine!

  3. Hi Julie,
    Great to hear you giving knitting and crocheting such a wrap. I have grown up doing both and still love to work on a project all year round. I also bring this skill to work and teach others, to encourage mindfulness & a great sense of achievement , etc..

    1. So important isn’t it Julieanne to share these skills that have been passed onto us? Nothing better than seeing a project grow that you have made.

  4. I need to give this skill a second go. I had a great-aunt who used to read the knitting pattern, memorise it, then go to the movies clicking away on auto pilot. When the movie was over, she’d have finished an entire sleeve! Shame on me, I’m still on Knit 2, Purl 2!

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