Benefits of Pilates
Pilates offers many benefits for the mind and body. It can help:
- Ease lower back pain and general back pain
- Improve posture
- Increase core strength
- Increase energy
- Improve mental health
- Increase body awareness
If you are thinking about trying Pilates, here is some information on the ways that Pilates can help you reap these benefits, and more.
About Joseph Pilates, Founder and His Philosophy
Joseph Pilates, founder of the Pilates method, also called Pilates exercise, suffered from serious health issues as a child including asthma and rickets. These challenges inspired him to learn about health and the human body. By reading anatomy books and observing animals in nature, Joseph Pilates learned early in life that a healthy body and mind are two sides of the same coin. The Pilates exercise methodology aims, among other things, to strengthen the connection between the mind and body.
Many Pilates exercises focus on strengthening your core through relatively simple body weight exercises. Through practicing Pilates, people learn that a strong core is not just strengthening the abdominal muscles. There are other, deeper muscle groups that keep the whole skeletal structure properly aligned. Originally, Pilates’ exercises consisted of mat training. He then took his method further while rehabilitating injured soldiers during World War II. It was in a hospital itself where he developed his Pilates equipment by pulling apart beds and using their springs for resistance. This equipment allowed extra aid and support where it was needed, while also further challenging the body. Through his experience and practice, Pilates recognized that raising the heart rate through exercise and incorporating a workout oriented on body stability and flexibility could help people heal their bodies and get stronger. After his discoveries, Joseph Pilates decided to spread his knowledge. And so, the first Pilates class was born.
The Health Benefits of a Pilates Workout
One benefit of Pilates is increased body awareness, or “proprioception.” This is the body’s ability to sense its location in space and its movements. As clients discover a deeper sense of their body they become more aware of their habits, from sitting with proper to maintaining body symmetry while standing and moving. Body awareness improves early on, allowing peoples to notice that little tweak in their neck or shoulders from sitting at the computer or looking down at the phone. Peoples will start to recognize where they carry their stress in their bodies. Daily, unconscious habits have an impact on the body over time. For example, our bodies do not enjoy sitting all day. Our bodies are made to be in motion! Long periods of sitting can take a toll on one’s body causing lower back pain, sciatica and many other chronic issues.
Many Pilates movements stress flexibility, one aspect of health that simply requires hard work. We don’t try to sell products to our clients to earn a commission for the reason that there are no products on the market that can make the body more flexible. The only thing that increases flexibility is consistent, hard work. As the old saying goes, any goal worth accomplishing won’t be easy.
When some think of Pilates, they think of some Yoga style exercise. There might be a few similarities, but the methodology of the two differ greatly. However, on the neurological level these two practices do hold similarities. That similarity is the increase in what neuroscientists call “alpha waves” which are an aspect of brain activity that can be measured on an EEG (electroencephalogram) machine. Pilates stimulates the nervous system and increase what’s called “alpha peak power” or the ability of the brain to product alpha waves. Alpha waves are usually produced while someone is resting with their eyes closed, but not asleep- sound familiar to meditation? Pilates exercise can stimulate that meditative state. Research is ongoing, but a 2006 article in Scientific American explained that an increase in alpha wave activity can be linked to easing symptoms of attention-deficit disorder and depression, and can boost cognition in healthy brains. There are tangible neurological benefits to Pilates exercise.
Those are just 3 Pilates benefits. In truth, there are countless benefits.
Flexibility of Pilates
Everyone can benefit from Pilates. It is appropriate for people of nearly any age and fitness level. In the beginning, movements are paced in order to start building the connection between the mind and the body, while also getting the blood flowing. As practitioners become more experienced, the exercises become more complex and some find themselves becoming aware of muscles they never knew they had! Simultaneously, lots of practitioners feel invigorated because we work to open up areas of the body that were formerly rigid and tight. No matter the level, the main goals remain: body awareness, posture, and focused breathing.
Pilates can also be a wonderful adjunct to sports training and other forms of exercise. It is versatile and can be a big help in helping folks lose weight and reach their and health and wellness goals, whatever they may be.
Rehabilitation and Health Benefits of Pilates
Joseph Pilates is quoted as saying, “Change happens through movement, and movement heals.” We work with many clients who are recovering from injury or surgery. Pilates can be an integral part of rehabilitating the body and restoring strength and mobility. (see this article from Pilates.com Pilates: Effective For Injury Rehabilitation) In many ways Pilates is based on the idea that movement; specific, focused movement can heal. An experienced and certified Pilates instructor can help practitioners strengthen muscles, improve blood circulation, and increase their range of motion. Pilates helps to re-educate the muscles to help sustain correct, natural positioning. In addition to helping recovery from injury or surgery, many enjoy increased body awareness and improved posture, a foundation of good health.
Pilates, Strength, and Posture
Remember, the body is a complex machine with many moving parts. That is especially true when it comes to the core, one of the most overlooked and important groups of muscles in the body. Core strength is paramount to maintaining good physical health. It includes the abs, yes, but also so much more than that one muscle group. The core muscles control your breathing and contribute to balance and stability. We like to tout the benefits of Pilates as holistic. We want clients to develop a stronger and healthier body. This method can help strengthen you posture, improve range of motion, and as mentioned earlier, even help your brain.
Pilates is wonderfully nuanced and specific. As such, it takes focus and concentration. Many can experience its benefits right away after attending a class for just a few weeks. But we are never looking for shortcuts. We are looking for the right path for our clients to reap the greatest rewards Working with the right Pilates Instructor will help practitioners improve health and strength. It can take time, but that is time well spent. This can be a lifelong endeavor. Think of whole-body health like an onion, a great instructor can help peel through all of the layers of bad habits and injuries.
Why Should Men Do Pilates?
Many men do Pilates to meet their fitness goals. There are a lot of things that popular forms of exercise like running and weight training do not address. First, Pilates helps develop many muscles that don’t get attention in standard training, like those smaller muscles groups that play important supporting roles. Second, Pilates helps increase flexibility. This prevents injuries and muscles strains as well as increasing range of motion. Studies have even found that Pilates can help improve blood pressure. Everyone can benefit from working on overlooked muscles groups and increasing body awareness.
Why Should Women Do Pilates?
Developing strength and stability is key to women’s health. Pilates can help build lean muscles and support bone health. It can help strengthen pelvic floor muscles through core work and breathing exercises. Practicing awareness of breath is something that many people neglect, and its benefits are proven. Pilates can help achieve higher energy levels, muscle growth, improved blood circulation, and increased overall health. Everyone can benefit from an hour where they tune into themselves and their bodies in a powerful and thoughtful way.
Building the connection between mind and body is fundamental to Pilates. It requires concentration, which helps build that connection. With enough practice, this results in an increased awareness of the body. As we have discussed, this body awareness has many health benefits. We always encourage our clients to take lessons from the studio and bring them into their everyday life. The benefits of Pilates are far-reaching. Increasing your mind-body connection improves your health and vitality, and can improve your quality of life. Who doesn’t want that?
If anything here seems interesting, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. Don’t live near by? You should move! Learn about all the Things To Do in Fairfield, Connecticut! Like Joseph Pilates himself, we are here to spread our knowledge and help improve people’s lives.