Pilates: Workout for Body and Brain
Pilates is a physical exercise system that aims to train both your body and your mind. It was developed in the early 20th century and is now widely practiced worldwide by millions every day!
It provides a general, full-body workout, and is often compared to yoga due to it’s focus on strength, balance and flexibility. Pilates is easy to pick up, and you can get started at any age and whatever your fitness level currently.
How Do You I Started?
Like Yoga, Pilates is usually done using little more equipment than a simple mat. It’s a workout you can do easily in an exercise class or alone at home, in your living room!
How Does it Work?
The slow, deliberate style of Pilates exercises may not feel like they build muscle and strength in the same way working with weights might, but Pilates is actually a great way to get a whole-body workout.
In fact, Pilates can strengthen your body in ways weightlifting doesn’t, as it’s movements strengthen your entire body rather than focussing on specific areas. Pilates is known to be especially good for strengthening your ‘core’ muscles like the abdominals and obliques.
Improving your strength and building muscle is important, especially as we get older, because it helps reduce your risk of injury and keep you fitter and active for longer.
Pilates exercises involve a lot of stretching, and so regular workouts are great for improving your flexibility. But why is being flexible a good thing? There’s actually a few reasons:
Firstly, being more flexible will decrease muscle tension, meaning that everyday movements will be less restricted, and you’ll be less prone to feeling stiffness or tightness when stretching, standing, walking or bending.
You’ll also develop better blood circulation, as a more flexible body allows the blood to flow more freely. This helps to improve your organ function and also encourage cell growth in your body.
Most importantly, improving your flexibility helps you to stay mobile for longer, which is super important for healthy ageing. Inactivity in later life is a major cause of a range of health problems and can ultimately shorten your lifespan. With regular Pilates, you can improve your flexibility and mobility and equip your body to handle the physical challenges of ageing.
Pilates is also brilliant for improving your posture. Remember when you were young and your mom or teacher would tell you, ‘sit up straight!’, or ‘stand up straight!’, or ‘don’t slouch!’? Well it turns out that it was for good reason, posture is super important, and the good news is that it’s not too late to improve yours!
Imperfect posture puts huge strain on many different muscle groups, and the effects of this are felt in those aches and pains that we often dismiss as just ‘signs of ageing’. This really doesn’t have to be the norm though, and regular Pilates will improve and correct your posture. As practice more and more, you’ll soon feel these aches less and look and feel taller and more agile!
4) Fight Stress
Just like Yoga, practicing Pilates is a calming experience for your body and mind. As well as working on your physical strength and flexibility, it also involves exercises that focus on your breathing and helping you to control it, almost like meditation.
This calming effect can help you sleep better, and improve your general mental healthy by reducing the buildup of stress.
5) Boost your brain power
The positive relationship between exercise and brain health is well-known, and Pilates is no different. Taking up a new type of workout and learning new steps and movements stimulates brain activity, just like learning anything else for the first time. As you focus on developing new routines, you’re also building up brain-volume. Exercise really is the perfect way to multi-task and workout both your body and brain at the same time, and learning something completely new, like Pilates, is the best possible form of this!