Benefits of Pilates
Pilates. It's all about the breath, the movement of each limb as an extension of the core, and intense self-awareness. And it's a truly challenging form of exercise! With a host of benefits for body and mind. Here are eight benefits of Pilates practice.
1. It builds a formidable core
Hello, abdominals! In Pilates practice, you exhale before each exercise, and tighten the abdominals - specifically the pelvic floor and the transversus abdominus - to provide your body with stability. But in turn, this is what strengthens the abdominals, turning your core into your powerhouse.
2. It reduces back pain
One of the most common causes of back pain (especially chronic back pain and lower back pain) is a weak core. Studies have shown that Pilates may be more effective in relieving and reducing back pain than traditional medical techniques.
3. It improves muscular endurance
In Pilates, the exercises are done in a repetitive sequence. Each time you perform an individual Pilates movement, you try to outperform your previous attempts. This repetitive and increasingly challenging approach is what builds muscle endurance and stamina. And this endurance is what helps you perform better in other sports.
4. It improves posture, spinal alignment and body awareness
During Pilates practice, you actively lengthen your spine, correcting your spinal alignment. Over time, this builds better posture. With your spine in the correct alignment, and with good posture, you're far less likely to suffer an injury. Plus, Pilates makes you more aware of your body - your limbs, their movement and position - and this, too, reduces the risk of injury.
5. It's a low impact form of exercise
If you're looking for an exercise that gives you strength and muscle endurance, without the impact that wears down joints over time, then Pilates is the answer. It's a very gentle form of exercise, albeit a challenging one.
6. It builds flexibility and mobility
Pilates is proven to build long, lean muscles (as opposed to short, bulky muscles that may result in other sports). It promotes a high joint mobility too. All of this means you become more flexible, and will be less prone to stiffness.
7. It boosts brain performance and mental focus
Studies have shown that Pilates boosts the brain's activity, making you smarter. It also improves focus.
8. It kicks down stress
You can't move an inch during Pilates without focusing on your breath, your core, your posture and the exercise, which means that there's no space in your mind for the million-and-one things that regularly invade your brain, adding to your stress. Pilates lowers your heart rate (unless the exercise is physically challenging!) and your blood pressure.
Pilates: Joseph Pilates developed 'contrology' (as he originally called Pilates) because he had suffered with poor health as a child. Through his extensive studies of various exercise forms (including the martial arts, skiing and ball sports), he understood how to exercise the body with the core as the "powerhouse", which is one of the fundamentals of Pilates practice, to build overall physical strength, prevent injury and rehabilitate muscles. He also recognised the importance of a sound mind in the maintenance of a sound body. And this is why much of modern Pilates practice insists on mindful, present practice as well as mental focus. It's not surprising, then, that scientists have found Pilates practitioners are strong, fit (read: have healthy hearts) and avoid conditions like depression.
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