The Benefits of Pilates

Woman doing pilates

More than a decade ago I discovered the incredible virtues of Pilates.

I’d read information about this form of exercise for about 5 years before I finally decided to give it a try. Once the initial nervousness went away, I realized just how much pilates helps the body, and I felt silly for letting the seeming difficulty of the moves stop me from trying it. Whether individuals are beginners or experienced exercisers, the benefits of pilates are undeniable.

List of Health Effects

Improved Core Strength

One of the benefits of Pilates is that it focuses on the core muscles; these muscles include the abdominals and the back. Many individuals, even seasoned exercisers, often neglect some part of their core. However, the variety of Pilates moves works the complete muscle group. It does a better job than traditional crunches in strengthening and toning the abdominals. Toned abdominals not only look good but, in addition to a strong back, helps overall posture.

Greater Flexibility

Pilates improves flexibility and coordination. Everybody loses flexibility as they get older; however, adding Pilates to a workout program will help most people regain some of their flexibility. Individuals may not be able to do cartwheels or handsprings, but they will be able to move better in their daily activities. A flexible individual is less prone to injuries because of their muscles ability to move in more directions and bounce back in place. Improved flexibility related to a Pilate’s routine benefits the body in other ways, too.

Excellent Cross Training Activity

Cross training helps athletes to improve in their primary sports by doing secondary activities. Many athletes of other sports can benefit from doing pilates, particularly gymnasts and dancers, and especially those who cannot afford the special equipment needed to practice outside the gym. For example, instead of going out and buying a home gymnastics bar they can simply find an open space within their home to do pilates.

Pain Relief

Another benefit of Pilates is alleviation of pain, particularly the back and joints. Pilates helps the back by strengthening the spine and making it more flexible. A Pilate’s routine also minimized joint strains as well. Many rehabilitation centers use Pilates to help patients who have back and joint injuries because of the fluid movements entailed in this form of exercise. It also relieves pressures related to exercises that are hard on muscles and joints.

Provides Toned Muscle

Pilates tones the body without adding bulky muscles. Many women don’t want to lift weights because they are afraid that they will build big muscles. In reality, most women don’t have enough testosterone to look like a body builder. For those not convinced about the virtues of weight lifting, Pilates is a good alternative because it builds lean, long muscles. Building muscle, particularly for women, is important for preventing osteoporosis. For aesthetic reasons, lean muscles minimize sagging skin.

Anybody Can Do It

Pilates class

Pilates can be performed by people of any size. Although many people are accustomed to watching skinny people perform Pilates, even new exercisers with a lot of weight to loss can do this type of program. Most of the moved can be modified for those who are not size 2s. Because it is low impact, it’s a good way to begin working out without harming the knees. While a larger person many not see the scale move as quickly as they would like, the benefits of Pilates can be felt in loosening clothes and increased flexibility.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Pilates also benefits the mind, potentially helping with disorders like depression. Because the movements are focused on internal muscles, individuals have to pay attention to what they are doing. Unlike cardiovascular exercise, it is not just a matter of moving to see benefits. Individuals have to be aware of what muscles are working to get the full benefits of Pilates, especially if the movement includes balancing your own body weight. A residual affect is improved concentration in other activities.

Pilates is not a new form of exercise. Dancers have done it for years. For almost 20 years, though, others who want to build long, lean muscles have adopted pilates as a part of their exercise routine. They’ve come to appreciate the benefits of Pilates as part of their overall well-being. For those who are apprehensive about Pilates, get a Pilates DVD or check out a class at a local gym. For all that it does for the body and mind, it is worth a try.