If you have been thinking about starting a new workout or mixing up your current routine, here is your sign! Pilates is a great, low-impact workout that is often overlooked in favor of higher intensity workouts. And no- pilates is not just for women over the age of 50! There are so many benefits to regularly practicing pilates, from improved muscle tone to decreased stress levels. Read on for more about this amazing workout!
Even if you have heard of pilates before, you may not be very familiar with this workout. Pilates is a type of exercise in which you perform a series of controlled movements that flow into one another with precision. Pilates is considered a total body workout, however its main emphasis is on strengthening the core. An essential aspect of a good pilates workout is connecting your breath with each specific movement to provide a mind-body connection. Pilates both strengthens your muscles and your mind, which can benefit other parts of your life as well. Let’s dive into the many benefits of practicing pilates!
Promotes Mindfulness and Body Awareness
One of the core principles of Pilates is the it’s emphasis on mind, body, and spirit. Compared with other strength-training workouts that encourage you to push your body to the limits, pilates emphasizes staying in tune with how your body is feeling and recognizing your limits. Coming off a week of travel, and heavier weights aren’t working for you? Pilates encourages you to recognize that limit and honor your body by using lighter weights during that particular workout, rather than pushing yourself to a place your body doesn’t want to go.
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Helps Mix Up Your Workout Routine
Have you ever heard of cross-training? Cross-training is when you incorporate various types of exercise into your fitness routine, including cardio, strength-training, flexibility, and high-intensity training. Cross-training not only prevents burnout from doing the same workout time and time again, but it can actually help prevent injuries. Plus, incorporating different types of workouts allows you to use new muscles or use muscles in a way you haven’t before, which can improve your overall fitness levels.
Creates Muscle Tone
If you are seeking the long, lean, toned look, pilates may be just the workout for you. Pilates utilizes a type of muscle contraction that forces muscles to elongate under tension (if you have ever done the pilates one hundred you know what I am talking about). Furthermore, since Pilates emphasizes exercise using body weight, the reformer, or light weights, it does not create the “bulky” look that can sometimes result from exclusively lifting weights.
Improves Core Strength
Core exercises are not everyone’s favorite. However a strong core, which includes the muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor, supports good posture and muscle movements. A strong core can also help prevent back, neck, and shoulder pain. Pilates was originally developed to correct any muscle imbalances and many of the most popular pilates exercises are targeted at building core strength.
If you have shoulder tension, lower back pain due to sitting for long periods of time, or poor posture, you should seriously consider strengthening your core through pilates.
Improves Energy Levels
Pilates emphasizes breathwork, which helps improve circulation, and stimulates the spine and muscles. Regular practice of pilates can even improve cardiovascular fitness and stimulate feel-good hormones associated with better energy levels. Better oxygen usage associated with improvements in cardiovascular fitness helps make your body more efficient at producing energy. We could all use more energy, couldn’t we?
Anyone Can Do It
One of the best things about pilates is how welcoming it is to all ages, body types, and fitness backgrounds. Pilates is beginner-friendly, and can be tailored to specific individual needs. If you are pregnant, looking for a more intense workout, have any current or past injuries, or other specific concerns, there are ways to modify every single pilates exercise. Pilates foundations- core strength, proper alignment, and the mind-body connection, are accessible to all.
Helps Reduce Stress
As mentioned before, pilates stresses an inward focus to help you become more in tune with your body, mind, and spirit. With consistent pilates practice, many people become more aware of and in tune with their body’s needs, and often become better at practicing “slowness” to reduce stress and anxiety. This, combined with the breathwork performed during pilates, can actually down-regulate the nervous system, resulting in lower cortisol levels and reduced stress over time.
Improves Balance and Flexibility
Good balance and flexibility can improve everyday activities, including walking, posture, or even help prevent falls as we age. Both of these can also improve your performance in other exercises outside of pilates. Because of the way pilates is designed to help you strengthen your muscles while they are stretched, it improves pilates significantly compared to regular weight-training. Additionally, pilates’ focus on core strength and whole body alignment makes it a great tool to improve your overall balance.
It Improves Bone Strength
As you age, bone health becomes more and more prevalent, especially for women. Strong bone density can prevent osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, and prevent fractures later in life. Unfortunately, if you sit a lot (which most people with a desk job do), this could be negatively impacting your bone health. Good news- researchers have found that regular practice of pilates can improve bone density, creating stronger bones overall.
Many people get burned out from consistent HIIT training or weight training, and pilates is a great way to incorporate a “fun” exercise into the mix. Especially if you have never done anything like pilates before, this may be a good change of pace for you! Not to mention, you get the most benefit from consistent exercise, and if you enjoy something, you are much more likely to stick with it.
Will You Be Trying Pilates?
From lower stress levels to a welcoming environment, there are many things to love about pilates. Mix up your current workout routine and try out this fun workout. If you’re nervous about starting something new, bring a friend with you! What benefits are you looking forward to from incorporating a pilates practice?
Sydney McAvoy See all the author’s articles