Pilates Benefits as a Low Impact Fitness for Total Body Wellness
Pilates is not a new exercise concept. While you're doing the reps, the burn is no joke, but did you know the pilates benefits stem from the way you put your body in motion?
- Pilates began as a way to rehabilitate athletes and dancers but has since grown to accommodate the general public.
- These exercises naturally build muscle, flexibility, and balance at a gradual but long lasting rate.
- Pilates incorporates the techniques and benefits of other health practices for increased relaxation and body awareness.
- It's made to be adaptable to body types and abilities.
Pilates was brought to America in the 1920s by physical trainer Joseph Pilates as a way to help disabled athletes and dancers safely return to exercise and improve their health. Pilates has since been modified to meet the needs of the general public. Pilates does not require you to work your muscles to exhaustion, so there is no sweating or straining involved, only deep concentration. A variety of exercise cycles are done in low repetitions, typically five to ten times, over the course of a 45 to 90 minute workout. Resistance training is done on mats and with specialized equipment.
One huge aspect of the pilates benefits comes from the fact that it is tailored to each individual, and exercises are re-evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that they are still suitable for that individual. This approach can be used by anyone, from professional athletes to individuals with reduced mobility, pregnant women, and people with low fitness levels, due to the individual focus.
A Long List of Pilates Benefits
The list of pilates benefits is extensive, some of them are:
1. Improved flexibility and increased muscle tone
Like yoga, pilates benefits your flexibility, by slowly increasing the intensity and duration of exercises anyone can better the strength and elasticity of their muscles.
2. Balanced muscular strength on both sides of your body
One of the shortcomings of many exercises is that they unevenly work your muscles. Having uneven muscle growth can lead to more serious issues affecting your posture and other functions.
3. Rehabilitation or prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalances
Because pilates is so diverse, it does not matter what your current physical condition is you can always make slow gains.
4. Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing
Breathing is essential to life. When you breathe you allow oxygen to reach every one of your cells, when you exercise, typically you breathe harder and in turn receive more oxygen to your body. Not only can you improve your lung capacity during pilates, you can practice breathwork at any time. Effective breathing can be effective in grounding, which makes everything a whole lot easier.
5. Improved concentration
Focusing on any task for a period of time will increase your capacity to focus on that thing. To an extent anyway, there is always a limit. However, many physical activities require concentration, one of the most well known being meditation. In meditation, people beginning to study the practice often find it very difficult to be still for even 1 minute. However, with practice you can build up to incredible amounts of time. Pilates benefits concentration in this same way, over time, with practice pilates can be a tool used to improve your concentration
6. Increased body awareness
Knowing how your body works is one thing but to be fully in tune with it is another. When you consistently engage with and use your body to do physical tasks, you maintain your reflexes and strength. Unfortunately, many jobs and lifestyles today require a very sedentary existence with LOTS of sitting. Sitting, being on your phone, watching tv, these are all activities that require little to no body awareness. When we forget to utilize our bodies we release control, in order to maintain control over our bodies we need to exercise regularly, get enough sleep, eat decently and keep bad habits to a minimum. Pilates benefits all of these, if you do pilates regularly, you will probably eat and sleep more and have less time for bad habits!
7. Stress management and relaxation
Last on this list but definitely not the end of all the pilates benefits is stress management. Study after study has shown that physical exercise makes people happier. Though there is no definitive way to determine this correlation, the data is solid.
If you are a guy don't let the neon, leg warmer, 80’s fitness lady branded cover of pilates sway you from reaping the benefits. As we went over before, pilates benefits everyone. No matter your gender or physical condition, pilates is an activity you can engage in. If you are feeling a little shy try and get a buddy to do it with you, hey there will be like minded, fitness positive people there, what have you got to lose! A Pilates workout usually consists of a variety of movements and stretches. Each exercise is done while paying close attention to proper breathing and abdominal muscle function. Pilates should be done at least two to three times a week to get the most out of it.
Pilates is divided into two types:
- Mat-based Pilates is a collection of exercises performed on the floor with resistance provided by gravity and your own body weight. The main goal is to condition your body's deeper, supporting muscles to improve posture, balance, and coordination.
- Equipment-based Pilates involves equipment that operates against spring-loaded resistance, such as the 'reformer,' a moveable carriage that you can push and pull along its tracks. Weights (such as dumbbells) and other small pieces of equipment that provide resistance to the muscles are used in some kinds of Pilates.
Even though pilates benefits everyone, if you are concerned about starting a new activity you should consult your doctor. For example, people who have recently had surgery, pregnant women, people with a pre-existing medical condition such as heart disease or those with a musculoskeletal injury or disorder should use caution. Knowing your body and its limits is so crucial. And I did just look up classes near me.
Written by Kiana St. Onge