Have you thought about trying Pilates but aren’t sure whether it’s for you? Read on to discover what Pilates involves and the health benefits it can bring.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise that improves strength, flexibility and above all, control. Joseph Pilates developed his exercise system in the 1920s to help dancers and soldiers who were suffering from injuries. Pilates tones the muscles, improves circulation and reduces mental and physical stress.
While similar to yoga, Pilates concentrates only on physical strength and fitness. With an emphasis on posture and balance, this form of exercise will teach you how to move correctly and boost your overall fitness and wellbeing.
Suits one and all
One of the key benefits of Pilates is that nearly anyone can do it. Beginners and people who may not have exercised for a long time can start with basic, gentle exercises. Once you’ve mastered these, you can progress to more robust classes with more advanced moves and stretches. Everyone from top athletes to elderly or overweight people can enjoy the health benefits of Pilates. Even people with painful health conditions can benefit from exercises which strengthening the muscles in the pelvic floor. These conditions can vary from herniated discs to hemorrhoids.
Pilates needs only minimal equipment, just a mat to lie on and comfortable clothing. You can also include an at home dumbbells for your pilates arm workout, all you need is a set of lightweights. Start by holding the dumbbells with your arms down and palms facing your body. Put the dumbbells together at the centerline of the body and it will give you strong defined shoulders. While one of the joys of Pilates is that you can practice it almost anywhere, you may prefer to attend a class with a qualified instructor at first to make sure that you are performing the exercises correctly.
Health benefits of Pilates
Thanks to its emphasis on posture and flexibility, the benefits of Pilates include:
1. Improved posture
Pilates exercises require you to keep your body in perfect alignment. They can be particularly helpful for anyone suffering from lower back pain.
2. Longer, leaner muscles
By building up muscle strength without increasing bulk, Pilates gives you a more slender, well-toned body.
3. A flat tummy
Pilates exercises focus on strengthening the core muscles of the abdomen, giving you a flatter tummy.
4. Improved flexibility
As we age, we all lose flexibility. But Pilates can help to restore supple joints, tendons and muscles. If you’ve not exercised for a while, start gradually.
5. Relaxes body and mind
Pilates is an excellent way to reduce stress. While you perform the exercises and concentrate on breathing correctly, your brain no longer has any space for worrying about everyday responsibilities.
6. Improves balance
Pilates teaches you to pay attention to the connection between mind and body. In your later years, being more mindful of your posture and how your body is moving can be particularly helpful in preventing falls in older age.
7. You’ll feel a sense of wellbeing
Thanks to the way it brings the body and mind into harmonious balance, Pilates is one of the best types of exercise you can do to improve your wellbeing and overall fitness.
People who have not done any exercise for a long time or who have any medical issues should check with a doctor before starting any new type of fitness regime. But if you’re searching for a form of exercise that strengthens the body, relaxes the mind and that you can adapt to suit your level of fitness, then Pilates might be a perfect choice.