There’s scientific evidence that knitting can mend the brain.

In a 2012 study, Mayo Clinic professor of neurology and psychiatry Yonas Geda and colleagues studied the effects of activities including knitting, quilting and playing games in 1,321 seniors. Nearly 200 of whom had mild cognitive impairment, an intermediate stage between normal aging and dementia.

The researchers found that those who engaged in crafting, computer activities, playing games, and reading books were 30 to 50 percent less likely to have mild cognitive impairment than those who did not.

“Making things, bringing things into being with your hands, is one of the most important things that we can do for happiness and wellness,” says Dr. Carrie Barron, Psychiatrist/Psychoanalyst at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

She goes on to say, “There’s a calming effect from knitting and crochet, but also the focus and the exactness of it and the discipline involved. These are skills that are applicable to the mind. There’s a very powerful relationship between hands and mind.”

There’s also research from a 2007 study conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute that found knitting can lower heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute, lower blood pressure, and decrease stress.

“The amazing thing about it is that 60 percent of the total surface area of our brains is committed to our hands; only our hands” cites Dr. Alton Barron, Orthopedic Surgeon at OrthoManattan.

When we stop using our hands, we stop stimulating our somatosensory cortex. That plays into all aspects of thought, cognitive health, and well-being. It’s been shown that you can create new neural pathways. Since those activities are very bimanual, meaning using both hemispheres of the brain, you create dynamic interconnectivity in the brain. This is actually great preventative medicine.

Along with the Mayo Clinic study, the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found an associated lower risk of dementia in those 65 and older.

Do your hands currently prevent you from picking up this amazing hobby? Make an appointment today with one of our hand specialists: