“We retire too early and we die too young. Our prime of life should be in the 70’s and old age should not come until we are almost 100.” Joseph Pilates
No matter what your age or fitness level, Pilates can offer fabulous benefits for your wellbeing. These are just some of the reasons you may want to give Pilates a try.
Gain mental focus
One of the major points instructors stress in Pilates is mentally connecting with your body as you perform an exercise. You are supposed to concentrate on the muscles you are engaging, staying focused on the feeling of their contraction and release. You also link each movement with deliberate breaths, much as you would in yoga. The ability to do this generally results in more effective, controlled movements, training you to block out distractions and be mindfully aware. You can transfer this to just about any facet of your life.
Unlike many fitness programs that focus on just the large muscle groups, such as the quadriceps or biceps, Pilates focuses on stabilization. It works many of the deeper, intrinsic muscles of the body that keep the joints from moving in unhealthy or uncontrolled ways. With these muscles trained, the larger muscles often can handle larger loads or amounts of stress, letting you ramp up your training with decreased risk of getting hurt.
Toned supportive abdomen
Pilates hones in on strengthening the core or midsection of the body, the rationale being that a strong core keeps both the spine and pelvis aligned and supported for smooth, natural movements. Whereas traditional programs concentrate mainly on working the outer abdominal muscles through movements like crunches, Pilates targets the deepest layer of muscle, the transverse abdominus. It is the transverse abdominus that really acts like a girdle, holding all your lower internal organs in. When you strengthen it, those organs no longer can collapse outward, and you end up with a flatter belly.
Enjoy better balance and posture
It’s very common for people to have poor balance and posture today, primarily because most individuals sit for large portions of the day, slouching and weakening the muscles needed to fight gravity and stay truly upright. Pilates recognizes that the body is comprised of complementary muscle sets–for example, the triceps balance the biceps–and aims to reduce imbalances in them with a full-body approach. With these imbalances gone, you can straighten up the way you are supposed to.
Feel more energetic
When you are able to maintain a good, tall posture by strengthening your muscles with Pilates, you put all the other systems of your body into a better position to work. For instance, you can take a fuller breath, as you don’t slouch forward and collapse your rib cage. A fuller breath means more oxygen, which means you likely won’t fatigue as fast.
Muscles will look long and lean
It’s a myth that Pilates can give you longer muscles–only surgery can affect physical muscle length. What Pilates can do, though, is stretch out your muscles, increasing your flexibility and preventing your tissues from overworking. Strengthening the muscles in addition to lengthening them gives you a defined, tone look without the impression of too much bulk. The improvements in posture that it usually brings also can make you look lengthened and taller.
Perform a Pilates routine just about anywhere
Pilates requires very little equipment, with many routines relying solely on body weight. The few items you might use in a home-based workout–for example, a stability ball or resistance bands–are very portable. The minimalism in accessories means that you can do a Pilates routine wherever and whenever you have time, even in a hotel room while you’re traveling. There’s no expensive gym membership required!
Confidence will improve
Pilates is no different from any other fitness program in that, when you perform the exercises correctly and see and feel their benefits, you end up feeling pretty darn good about yourself. You know you’ve accomplished a goal and that you’ve done something good for your mind and body. People might even notice your improved physique, posture and attitude and offer compliments. You should always do Pilates for yourself, but these encouragements from others certainly don’t hurt!
Pilates is an excellent choice to include in your fitness program whether you are a beginner or a seasoned exerciser. It offers many benefits, such as a leaner-looking appearance and decreased risk of injury. You can get started just by checking out a good Pilates book or fitness video, but Pilates trainers and classes are also options. Always clear any exercise you do with your doctor before you begin.
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INHALE EXHALE SMILE® / LIFESTYLE MEDICINE
This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical issue or disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this article and will not be held responsible for the content of this article. The information in this article is not intended to replace a personal relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal health care provider for specific medical advice.