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Does Knitting Help Your Brain?

Does knitting help your brain? Global Backyard's blog explores.

Knitting appears helpful in keeping brains healthy

We already know that knitting has some wellness benefits because it seems to calm nerves and reduce stress levels (see my blog post Talk Therapy Might Work, But Fiber Therapy Is My Jam for more on that). 

I recently wondered about brain health and knitting, so I did a little digging and found a study from 2011 that's promising. By interviewing and assessing a group of elderly men and women, Mayo Clinic researchers looked at how a variety of activities correlated to developing "mild cognitive impairment." 

Activities the researchers considered "cognitive" (that challenge the brain) included crafts (knitting and quilting were given as specific examples), using a computer, playing games, and reading books (reading the newspaper didn't count). They assessed watching less TV as a positive, too.  

The group challenging themselves with one or more of the cerebral activities had a pretty dramatically lower rate of future impairment versus those that had less brain-stimulating habits. 

In fact, the people practicing more intellectually demanding pastimes (like knitting) were 30% to 50% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment. (Wow. Knit on, people. That's big).  

Mild cognitive impairment matters because having it increases your chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer's, two conditions that are SO scary and sad. And of course, no one wants to be even "mildly" mentally impaired (um, unless a cocktail is involved; then maybe that's what we're going for?). 

The study of course can't definitively say that undertaking cognitive activities is the CAUSE of better brain health, because maybe people who knit or use computers are healthier in some other ways. We do know that there is certainly a positive relationship.

Thus, I'm personally checking the "knit more" box, but now what I really want to know: If you watch TV and knit (hello, Netflix!), does it count against your brain-stimulation points? I'm thinking (hoping) that it is a net positive. I mean, theoretically you are doing more than just knitting while knitflixing, so maybe it's even extra points, right? I hope they study that soon. Perhaps they could look at cocktailing and knitting, too. (Knit-tailing?) 

Ready to shop for yarn? Come see our latest colorways.


Engaging in Cognitive Activities, Aging and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study, The Journal of Clinical Neuropsychology, Spring 2011.

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