A concept that started in the 1920s, Pilates has an ever-growing base of followers as the low-impact workout regimen delivers results without putting the body under too much pressure as other types of activities do. Moreover, a range of health benefits is associated with this practice, some of which might surprise even those who are experienced.
In the following, we will go over 15 of the most important health benefits you are bound to enjoy as of taking up Pilates. So, if you are looking to look and feel better but aren’t convinced if this workout technique is the right path for you to go on or not, definitely stick with us until the end to reach a proper conclusion.
Pilates 101 – A Closer Look At the Low-Impact Workout
This workout regimen comprises a series of movements that concentrate on key elements like posture, elasticity, power, and balance. As long as the physician has not advised you otherwise because of other underlying health conditions or issues, it is a workout that everyone can take, no matter the age or gender. Moreover, you have the option to either utilize special equipment in the routine or use your own bodyweight, whichever suits you better.
When you do Pilates, you won’t ever work your muscles to the point of exhaustion, so aside from intense concentration on placement, rhythm, and respiration pattern, you won’t experience effects like strain or sweating, which are common with most workouts.
What Types of Pilates Workouts Are There?
While variations exist plenty, at its basis, Pilates can be split into two primary forms that comprise:
- Mat-based workouts: You execute the exercises directly on the floor while sitting on a non-slip mat. What you use comprises of gravity and your body weight for resistance as opposed to relying on equipment. What it mainly targets is posture, balance, and coordination improvement.
- Equipment-based workouts: As the name so clearly implies, you use special equipment called Pilates reformer that works against spring-loaded resistance and moves a carriage that you push and pull on tracks. Some variations incorporate weights and other small gear, including resistance bands.
The untrained eye might find too many similarities between the two routines. While indeed similar up to a point as the movements used in Pilates are partially inspired by yoga, there is a big dissimilarity between the two physical activities. While yoga involves motionless postures, Pilates asks that you take up challenging, unstable postures and move your limbs. Yoga is helpful too, but when you pin it against Pilates, the latter definitely wins as muscle increase, toning, balance, posture, and several other perks that we will list in the following are offered, being exponentially more beneficial for the way you look and feel.
General Precautions for Safe Sessions
Even though this is a low-impact physical activity, there are specific circumstances in which it should not be performed. Before you embark on your Pilates journey, it is best to contact your physician for medical advice and receive the “OK” if you fall into any of the following categories:
- Over 40 years of age;
- Overweight or obese;
- Sedentary for too long;
- Recent surgery;
- Pre-existent medical conditions and injuries.
Health Benefits that Will Surprise You
- Improved flexibility – Every action you perform requires flexibility, everything from carrying groceries to ironing clothes. Woefully, we take it for granted and not work on it. As time passes and we age, we start to lose our flexibility and day-to-day tasks become increasingly difficult. If you don’t work out at all and lead an extremely sedentary lifestyle or you suffer injury, you may lose it even prematurely. By combining stretching with muscle building and resistance training, Pilates proves to be among the most efficient activities you could take up to improve elasticity and move freely as if you were 20 years old again.
- Blood circulation improvement – Any type of exercise can help towards achieving this wellness perk, and as this workout might even have you doing full-body exercises, it proves to be particularly efficient. Moreover, as it corrects your posture, this also adds to blood flow improvement as the two are linked.
- Increased lung capacity – Another beneficial health aspect is that you will increase lung capacity through correct posture. Yes, you read that right, posture is connected to breathing. As you won’t slouch and stay in abnormal positions anymore, you won’t put pressure on the diaphragm but rather let it contract normally so that it lets air in and out without a problem. Keep in mind that correct breathing is an integral part of Pilates as this plays an important role in lung health as well. With the passing of time, your breaths will get deeper as well, improving lung capacity.
- Improved coordination – It is crucial in day-to-day activities, but because of injuries or aging, you can slowly lose it. Decreased motor function affects coordination, so by practicing it through this workout regimen more and more, you assist boost the bond between your body, brain, and eyes.
- Better balance – At its basis, Pilates was purposed toward assisting dancers to recover, so you can see why balance is a vital part you profit from as of practicing it. Balance combines muscle movement, eyesight, sound, and interior ear input, and as the brain acquires receptive signals, it puts your body in the proper position. Other aspects that increase balance and are an integral part of the drill include core strength improvement, added flexibility, and enhanced concentration.
- Improved stance – A range of causes can lead to an inadequate posture, from driving too many hours each day to having a desk job. With time and combined with a sedentary lifestyle, a poor stance can head to inadequate spinal alignment as well. Among the repercussions of bad posture include digestion issues, low blood flow, and pinched nerves, to name a few. As this workout helps improve the core and reinforces the muscles, you will enjoy a proper, natural alignment of your back, and slowly learn to sit in a suitable position with your back irrespective of the activity you take up.
- Injury prevention – Many things can go wrong with the body and lead to harm. For those who practice sports, chances are even further increased for injuries to appear as improperly performed exercises or excess strain can eventually take a serious toll on the body. Luckily, the workout is proficient in tackling these concerns as it helps strengthen the joints and muscles. Thus, even if you exercise excessively and put strain on your body, chances of injury are reduced as opposed to before.
- Better sleep – Insomnia is among the contemporary wellness problems that increasingly more people are battling, this incapacity to fall asleep or have a restful nocturnal slumber taking a toll on life quality and expectancy. Unfortunately, when untreated, insomnia can even lead to the development of depression and affect a person’s life even further. If you integrate the exercise regimen in your routine before you go to bed, you can free your mind of all worries and tire your body out so that you will fall asleep faster and rest better.
- Stronger physique – The basic interpretation of strength is the amount of weight a person can lift. A key component to this workout is sitting in innate positions that pose a challenge as you don’t usually take them up in your normal routine. Moreover, the practice involves using your body weight while you exercise, activating your muscles, and assisting them to grow in mass and raw force. If you are recovering from injury, it is all the better to take up Pilates as you can move and use only the healthy parts of your body. Thus, you put less pressure or ignore the affected area altogether so that you can recover gradually without renouncing workouts altogether to not lose your force.
- Core strength improvement – While this activity bolsters your whole body, the key area on which it focuses is your core. These muscles are in charge of steadiness and balance and are needed in all movements you make, so you can see why core strength improvement is a health benefit from which you will have a lot to gain. Moreover, chances are reduced for you to ever suffer injury if you have sufficient core strength.
- Rehabilitation aid – So you had an injury and want to get your life back on track ASAP. Whether you had an accident or you are an athlete that sustained a serious injury during your program, Pilates provides rehabilitation unlike any other workout as it involves going through low-impact exercises that can be performed even with certain pre-existing conditions. It provides a means to stay active without putting yourself at risk seeing how you have a wide range of exercises to pick from. Thus, you can opt to work on all other areas that are not affected to upkeep your shape, letting the injured part recover slowly.
- Improved concentration – Aside from the expected perks it provides when it comes to your body, this practice does wonders for the mind. You need to focus when you execute the movements, which helps you concentrate better overall, creating a better connection between your body and your mind. With concentration, you also see an improvement in balance, so there is a string of advantages that you will enjoy.
- Stress relief – Unfortunately, stress is an active part of modern life, and a lot of factors can cause it, whether internal or external. As you are more self-aware when you work out and you inhale and exhale properly, you get a sense of leisure and start to live in the moment, momentarily relieving the pressure you feel.
- Brain health boost – Exercises of all types help you maintain brain health and increase your capability to resolve problems. As opposed to cardio and fitness, it helps even more as it offers you the chance to become more self-aware and assists raise the amount of white matter in your brain.
- Higher energy levels – When it comes to providing that much-needed boost of energy when you wake up, breathing can be a lot more helpful than a cup of coffee. Seeing how you focus on proper breathing a lot when you work out, you enhance energy levels naturally. Moreover, the exercises themselves help freshen you up and revitalize you.
What Should Your Workout Schedule Look Like?
The answer slightly differs according to your physical condition level and experience with practicing Pilates to begin with. If you are a beginner in this activity and don’t have the best physical form either, aim for at least three workouts per week that are at least 20 minutes long. With each session, make sure to diversify and include new and interesting drills that you haven’t tried the prior time to put emphasis on as many different muscle groups as possible and not get your body too accustomed to the routine.
Once you get the hang of this activity, try to work out at least four times per day and increase the workout time by at least 10-15 minutes. If your physical shape allows it and you feel like you are capable, then you can extend your workout sessions to as much as 45 minutes, even 90 minutes if you become really involved and passionate. Just limit yourself to what you can handle at that moment as you will improve and raise your numbers over time anyway.
Bottom Line – Is Doing Pilates Worth It?
Considering the fact that Pilates doesn’t only make a big difference in your physical fitness and appearance, but as it provides a range of health benefits that include, among others, better blood flow and higher lung capacity, as well as making a difference in your mental health as it helps enhance your brain health and relieve stress, it is one of the few workouts worth taking up.
As opposed to most types of workouts and sports, it is considerably lighter and puts less strain on your body. There is a wide range of exercises to turn to as well, fit for all fitness levels and degrees of preparation. So, if you seek a low-impact drill to stay fit and healthy, Pilates might just be the right option for you! Better yet, you can get your hands on some gear, make a small personal workout corner for yourself in a room, and take it up in the comfort of your own home if you would rather enjoy a more intimate setup rather than a class filled with people.