8 Ways How Pilates Is Great For Your Body And Mind!

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If you are a fitness freak or have been into gymming or exercise for quite some time, then you might be well aware of the exercise form known as Pilates. A popular exercise format among celebs, it can help transform your body without bulking you up. It uses a combination of around 50 simple and repetitive exercises which are aimed to provide muscle exertion and make you fit physically. Before we delve deep into the benefits of Pilates on the mind and body, let’s know an interesting fact about it.

Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century[1] and is one of the most loved physical fitness regimens of the current time. Joseph suffered from asthma and rickets when he was a child. So to strengthen his frail and sick body, he created an exercise method that can act as a gentle strength training exercise for rehabilitation purpose or turn into a strenuous workout. The exercise is known to improve core muscle strength, improve blood circulation, increase  flexibility, and balance and improve posture. In simple terms, it can help boost your heart health, calm your mind and aid in weight loss.

Health Benefits Of Pilates

Pilates enthusiasts describe it as a way of life and not just a workout. They claim that it transforms not only the body, but also clears the head and brings inner peace. The exercises are usually done in a specific order, one right after another. The movements have names like criss-cross,100, elephant, swan and so on and involve utmost control and specific breathing technique. You can do Pilates on an exercise mat either in class or at home using a DVD. You can even go to a gym or studio that has special Pilates equipment called a reformer. However, you may need a professional trainer to help you out in getting used to the reformer.

Here are some amazing benefits of this fitness regimen and reasons why you should incorporate Pilates in your daily routine.

1. Helps Relieve Back Pain

The secret to Pilates is the coordination between the mind, body and soul. Incorporation of this exercise into your daily fitness routine can alleviate lower back pain and other muscle aches. It builds the spinal muscles, and re-aligns the back to reduce pain. Research[2] shows that 4 weeks of Pilates has a significant effect in reducing back pain.

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2. Activates Multiple Muscle Groups

Each exercise engages a different muscle area of the body. However, with Pilates, it is challenging as this workout activates different and more varied muscles than a regular cardio workout. Persistent tension in the core muscles i.e. abdomen, hips, buttocks and lower back results in better stamina and muscle tone as well as core strength, thereby providing overall effect.

3. Promotes Mindfulness

Joseph Pilates, the pioneer of this powerful regime aimed at achieving oneness of the mind, body and the soul. Through the use of breathing techniques, one focuses on controlling each movement. Doing this in 45 minute routine soon translates into living it outside the gym and into daily life, promoting mindfulness and calmness within the person.

4. Improves Cognition

Research[1] has shown that Pilates has wondrous benefits when it comes to cognition. It can improve memory, lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, increase intelligence quotient (IQ) and also make you more creative. As it involves control over breathing as well as boosting blood circulation throughout the body, its effect on the brain activity and health comes as no surprise.

5. Enhances Flexibility

The exercises stretch the muscles and increase flexibility. Engaging in Pilates as little as 2-3 times a week for a month can widen the range of movements that one can perform. Over time the joints tend to become stiff but Pilates helps to re-mobilize them and increase flexibility. Moreover, the dynamic criss-cross exercises ensure better side to side movement.

6. Elevates Moods And Relieves Stress

Pilates is a lot like yoga and involves not only physical training, but also the mind. A session of this exercise can reduce stress levels and make you happier in life as it releases endorphins, happy hormones. The precision and control involved in each movement trains us to control ourselves rather than external forces that are beyond our control improving and helping to control our mood as well.

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7. Improves Body Posture

Pilates contributes to the proper alignment of the body and improves posture. The use of one’s own body weight for exercises brings about a better awareness of one’s movements. So in addition to building core strength, it also helps to build physical strength, balance and posture.

8. Promotes Bone Health

As the tension in the muscle reduces, bone density gradually improves and lubricates the joints to provide free movement. This exercise form does not put pressure on the joints or muscles but helps in smooth movement of the joints and muscles improving the strength and flexibility. It also helps in building bone strength and improve bone density, adding years to your joints. This is the reason why Pilates are also advised for rehabilitation.

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Pilates is suitable for all ages and builds endurance and overall health and stamina. Those who have hypertension and blood clots are not advised to perform this exercise. So it is always best to consult a doctor before starting a new fitness regimen such as Pilates to reap the maximum benefits.

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)

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1. Kloubec J. Pilates: how does it work and who needs it? Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2011 Dec 29;1(2):61-6. Print 2011 Apr.

2. Eliks M, Zgorzalewicz-Stachowiak M, Zeńczak-Praga K. Application of Pilates-based exercises in the treatment of chronic non-specific low back pain: state of the art. Postgrad Med J. 2019 Jan;95(1119):41-45. 

3. Di Lorenzo CE. Pilates: what is it? Should it be used in rehabilitation? Sports Health. 2011 Jul;3(4):352-61.

4. Lim EJ, Park JE. The effects of Pilates and yoga participant’s engagement in functional movement and individual health level. J Exerc Rehabil. 2019 Aug 28;15(4):553-559.

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