You’ve maybe heard of the exercise called Pilates. Celebrities gush over the sculpted long and lean look the workout creates; people who start Pilates sometimes can’t seem to talk about anything else. Once you know someone who is into it, you can’t avoid hearing about it. Despite its popularity and avid support from participants, many people aren’t aware of what Pilates actually is and how good it can be for our minds, bodies, and emotional states. The following will explore some of the benefits of Pilates.
What Is Pilates?
Originally named Contrology, Pilates is a series of movements designed to help stabilize and therefore strengthen your core. Joseph H Pilates created the method in the early 1900s, drawing inspiration from yoga, martial arts, Zen meditation, ballet, and ancient Greek and Roman exercises. The movements contain a breathwork element as well as a mental exercise component since there is a strong emphasis on centering, concentrating, controlling, precision, breathwork, and sensations of flow between movements.
The workout is done on a gym mat and using specialized equipment called a reformer (if just beginning, you don’t need to worry about purchasing the machine from the get-go, there are at-home pilates workouts that don’t require it). Typically, the movements are done in a specific sequence back-to-back. There is a huge emphasis on technique, and often, the workout takes between 45 minutes to an hour. Given the lack of aerobic exercise involved, it is encouraged to do Pilates in addition to cardio exercise in order to have a complete workout regime that covers all your bases.
Pilates Decreases Physical And Emotional Pain
Studies conducted on the impact of Pilates have shown that the movements reduce sensations of pain in the body. In particular, lower back pain is eased; the movements promote the restoration of functionality in muscles involved in lumbopelvic stabilization. This includes the transversus abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor muscles. It is estimated that around 84% of people will have lower back pain at some point in their lives, and the rate of chronic lower back pain (meaning it exists for 12 weeks or longer) is around 23%.
Furthermore, menstrual pain is reduced by pilates exercises. Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for experiencing painful menstrual periods. This type of pain can be debilitating and result in a reduction in quality of life. Pilates has been shown to lessen menstrual pain.
In addition to the reduction of physical pain, Pilates has also been shown to impact levels of depression and anxiety. When measured, people’s scores on quality of life, depression, and trait anxiety were all improved by participation in a pilates workout. Negative thought patterns were easier to release, and fatigue was reduced. Because of this, Pilates has been suggested as an alternative solution to mood disorders in people who are overweight or obese.
Anyone Can Do It
While there are many worthy exercises and workouts in life, some regimes are much more difficult for people who are older, injured, suffering from a medical condition, or who haven’t been prioritizing exercise for a while. Pilates contains thousands of possible moves and modifications to help suit any person who wants to get more active no matter where they are in their fitness journey or their current state of injuries; there’s even pregnancy pilates.
Further, Pilates can be done in group classes, in a one-on-one training session, or in the comfort of your own home. If seeking training from an instructor, it’s always good to look for someone who is certified. Professional trainers know how to construct a pilates routine that works for your given situation, whatever that may be. For instance, Complete Health Pilates clinic focuses on Pilates and osteopathic needs. Their process involves an assessment with an osteopath, and then a personalized program will be designed specifically for you.
Increases Core Strength
Pilates focuses on the center of your body, and this means your core muscles are getting a good workout. Improved core strength, in turn, has many positive benefits. It helps to decrease pelvic floor dysfunction, reduce back and hip pain keeping your back healthy, improves your ability to do tasks that involve lifting, twisting, or standing, improves balance and stability, and helps encourage good posture.
Many people cite improved alignment and posture after practicing Pilates for a bit, and core strength is a big part of why this is. Lower back pain and strength were mentioned above, but given the full-body nature of Pilates, the upper back is also strengthened.
Boosts Bone Density
Bone density is a major issue today, given the average lifestyle contains much more sitting than our ancestor’s lives did. Studies have found that Pilates can increase bone density. Denser bones mean a reduction in the risk for developing osteoporosis (a condition in which weakened or brittle bones break easily, even because of something as simple as a cough) and osteoarthritis. It’s worth noting that, contrary to popular belief, loss of bone density can happen at any age.
Improves Sleep Quality And Sex Life
Studies conducted found that Pilates can result in better sleep, particularly for those under the age of 40. Studies also found the same results when postpartum women included Pilates in their week.
Given that Pilates builds strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility and focuses so much on the core, it has a positive impact on sex life. People studied said they found it easier to get into sex positions and hold them for longer. In addition to this, as mentioned above, Pilates can improve the strength of the pelvic floor, which has been correlated with increased enjoyment of sex.
Boosts Cognitive Function
Research has shown that after pilates training, cognitive function is improved. Markers such as new neuron development, blood flow to the brain, the longevity of neurons in charge of learning, memory, and executive thinking, and increased neurotransmitters were used to determine cognitive function, and each of these areas saw an improvement.
Promotes Ease In Multiple Sclerosis Patients
When cognition, balance, physical performance, tiredness, depression, and quality of life in multiple sclerosis patients, statistically significant improvements were found among those practicing clinical Pilates.
Improved Motivation For Students
A study seeking to examine the relationship between Pilates and motivation in students discovered a positive relationship. Practicing pilates resulted in increased motivation among students in addition to a reduction in anxiety, attention struggles, and mental function difficulties. Because of these benefits, students felt a positive impact on their academic performance.
Particularly in older adults but in people of all ages, Pilates has been shown to improve immune system functioning. Improved circulation and properly flowing lymph are thought to be the reasons for this. Your immune system is what fights off bacteria and viruses, keeping you from getting sick.
Increased Flexibility, Mobility, And Balance
Flexibility refers to the amount of passive stretch a given muscle has. Mobility refers to the complete range of motion a joining has. Flexibility and mobility work in tandem to help support each other, and the focus on the smooth flow between pilates movements has been shown to help with this. Slower, more controlled movements that involve stretching during a strength improving exercise (instead of before or after) is one of the reasons Pilates is so beneficial in these areas.
Furthermore, Pilates improves a person’s ability to balance and stay coordinated, which can benefit nearly all everyday activities like walking, reaching, and twisting. Since Pilates focuses on alignment during whole-body movements, gait and balance are both strengthened and improved.
Improved Awareness And Energy
Body awareness involves a connection between our minds, emotions, and bodies. If someone is often bumping into things, knocking their elbows or knees into items, falling over, tripping, or struggling with balance, they might be someone with lower body awareness. Given how much of our daily lives doesn’t include movement, lower body awareness is something that is growing. Sometimes called kinesthesia, body awareness involves being conscious of your body and connected to the movement and position of limbs, muscles, and joints. Studies have found people with improved body awareness have better balance, better weight management, less pain, and improved mental and emotional well-being.
Moreover, the breath-focus element of Pilates helps improve cardiorespiratory capacity, which can stimulate oxygen flow, blood circulation, and feel-good hormones. As well, Pilates is designed to be low impact, which means that it rarely leaves people feeling fatigued after a workout.
Given how focused pilates movements are on balancing muscles in the body by ensuring they’re not too loose or too tight, the workout reduces susceptibility to injury. The dynamic core strength focus improves a person’s ability to support and stabilize joints while moving, which further reduces the risk of injury in sports and other athletic endeavors.
The above benefits are just the beginning of the wonders of Pilates. This workout regime has all the benefits of standard strength and weight training exercises like improved strength and weight loss without the wear and tear on joints, as well as improvement in mind and body integration.
Of course, it’s important when beginning any new workout regimen that you don’t push yourself too hard too quickly. It’s always good to spend a bit of time perfecting form and posture before you work on speed and endurance.