Knitting has become the new yoga - the health benefits of knitting and crocheting are many and because of the internet's easy access to instructions and patterns and yarns, the number of knitters has increased by 150%, including for those in their 20's and 30's. Yes, Grandma's yarn has become cool to carry in fancy upholstered knitting bags and in more fibers than just merino wool. And you can now even knit items for the summer, such as this cotton sun hat for the beach.
New studies have shown that knitting and other repetitive needle work provide a number of invaluable health benefits. The rhythmic repetitive acts help prevent and manage stress, pain and depression which in turn strengthens the body's immune system. Learning patterns also helps stimulate the mind which has been shown to slow memory loss that comes with aging.
Dr. Herbert Bendon, Director of the Institute for Mind, Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard medical School notes that knitting is one method to create a "relaxation response" in the body, which can lower blood pressure, heart rate and help prevent illness. Knitting and crochet have a calming effect overall which can help manage anxiety and may even help conditions such as asthma or panic attacks. Additionally, the repetitive movements have been shown to help manage disruptive behavior and ADHD in children.
The Knitting Ranch provides instructions for new and experienced knitters along with yarns and patterns and was founded by Suzi Brown, a Registered Nurse. She found knitting to be both enjoyable, relaxing while stimulating her creativity to design her own shawls, hats and sweaters. Her website brings the benefits of knitting to everyone, while also providing a peek at life on a Colorado ranch - check it out: the Knitting Ranch to find yarn, needles, lessons and more. There are even square knitting needles now for those with arthritis.
You can also learn about other activities caregivers are sharing with their senior clients in Caregiverlist's forums, or, share a new one of your own with your caregiving peers.