How Knitting Can Increase Your Brain’s Growth Hormone
- Published on: 26 July, 2018
- Last update: 03 November, 2020
Did you know that something as simple as knitting can increase your brain’s favorite growth hormone? This also applies to any activity that gets you “in the flow” where you’re focused and forget about the world/your phone!
In a recent post, I talked about how exercise greatly increases a protein called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). The first researchers who studied BDNF found that if they sprinkled it onto neurons in a petri dish, the cells automatically sprouted new branches. It was so miraculous, in fact, that they even nicknamed it “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”
BDNF also plays a role in neuroplasticity, which allows nerve cells in the brain to compensate for injury, new situations or changes in the environment.
When levels are high, acquiring new knowledge is easier, memories are retained, and people feel happier.
While exercise is one of the best methods of boosting BDNF in the bloodstream, there are several other ways to see an improvement. One is sun exposure (interesting to note that Vitamin D supplements do not have the same effect), and another is cold or heat stress such as cryotherapy or saunas.
One of my favorite ways, however, is simply engaging in an activity that stimulates my mind and gets me in the flow. You know you’re in a flow state when: you’re consumed with a task, you’re not thinking about the future or past, you’re not questioning if you like what you’re doing, you’re not bored, and you’re not stressed. For some this is yoga, for others this is reading an incredible book, but for me it’s knitting!
I like to knit while listening to music a few times a week to replace watching TV or being on my phone in order to give my brain a reboot, give my eyes a rest from screens and relieve stress. It’s a great feeling to focus on something that challenges me in a different way than my usual work tasks… and it results in some pretty snazzy Christmas gifts too! 😉