Pilates is much more than a simple workout that improves flexibility. Although it was popularized by celebrities, Pilates is a workout that’s for everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, size, ability, or specific fitness level. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that can help counteract a sedentary lifestyle, accelerate recovery, and even reduce anxiety.
What Is Pilates?
The Pilates repertoire includes over 600 exercises and variations, which you can perform on a mat or specialized equipment. It’s also a philosophy and style of exercise that encourages bodily alignment through balanced movements and breathing patterns. The creator, Joseph Pilates, developed the exercise body conditioning system in the 1920s. Initially, people in the dance community embraced it more than anyone, as it contributed to better strength, flexibility, and injury recovery.
Nowadays, Pilates is a mainstream form of exercise that can benefit anyone from the office worker to professional athlete. It’s similar to yoga, in that it emphasizes mindful movements and breathing. It differs from yoga because it’s more anatomical and focuses on controlled movements and alignment, and less so on meditative aspects. Continue reading to learn how you can benefit from Pilates workouts.
As previously mentioned, Pilates focuses on postural alignment, and the movements encourage better posture. Many of the movements encourage abdominal, glute, and core strength, and these muscles help maintain correct posture. Strengthening these muscle groups also decreases joint and ligament tension in the neck and shoulders.
As you progress through Pilates workouts, you slowly work to lengthen and stretch the muscles, improving range of motion in joints. There are not really contorted poses like there are in yoga, but lengthening the muscles helps the body flow more freely. That’s a realistic way of increasing flexibility without injury.
Strengthens The Core
Pilates emphasizes movements that involve the core, from which all movements stem. The core involves all of the surrounding muscles of the torso, which become pliable and supportive when strengthened. Having a strong core can decrease the risk of back and hip pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.
When your core is strong, the body has an easier time carrying out automated processes, including balance. The core muscles are the output of the body’s balance system. The core is nearest the body’s center of gravity, so strengthening the body’s foundation, so to speak, helps to improve the balance system.
Enhances Body Awareness
Exercise physiologists define body awareness as the body’s ability to sense action, movement, and location. You walk without thinking or scratch your head with your eyes closed. Enhancing body awareness directs your focus on the sensations that your body experiences, including pain, emotions, or comfort. Improving the body’s response time and awareness may prevent injuries and falls.
Improves Sex Life
One of the main benefits of Pilates is that it helps to strengthen the pelvic floor. Additionally, you become more flexible and develop a stronger core the longer you engage in Pilates workouts. All of these things can make a roll in the hay more enjoyable. Improving pelvic floor strength and function can increase sexual pleasure.
Many studies have proven that exercise increases endorphin production, which are feel-good neurotransmitters. The more endorphins you produce, the more stress you can relieve. Pilates is an excellent method of exercise that also incorporates breath control, which is another way to relieve stress in the moment. Balancing the body’s autonomic nervous system also helps to ease long-term symptoms of stress, including anxiety and depression.