I bore myself silly sometimes, banging on about core strength and posture all the time. But the truth is, I mention it so much because it really is vitally important to everything we do. Whether it’s giving you the inner strength (literally!) to stand and wait 3 hours in a queue, or allowing you to pick up heavy items without doing yourself harm, it all comes down to core strength and posture.
One of the best ways to improve yourself in this area is using a form of exercise such as Pilates. There are many other benefits to this form of exercise as well; I recently read an article which compiled 7 reasons to do Pilates which you may not have thought of before. I thought, this week, I would share those with you.
- It relaxes you. While yoga is well known for its breathing techniques and relaxation, somehow Pilates has missed out on renown in this area. Linking the stretches and exercises to your breathing has a provably relaxing effect, and seeing as the muscles you tend to “carry” stress in (those around your spine and shoulders) are the very same ones Pilates focusses on exercising, it can be a great way to unwind.
- Makes pregnancy and birth easier. Ok, so not such a great reason for men to take it up, but it really can work wonders for women during pregnancy. Starting to do Pilates when you are pregnant can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles meaning it will not only help with the actual labour but will also reduce the likelihood of problems such as incontinence after pregnancy. If you are trying to get pregnant, it’s never too early to start working on your core either!
- Great for athletes. London Irish rugby players, amongst others, make use of Pilates in helping to prevent injury as well as giving them a greater overall strength.
- Increase muscle mass. Admittedly, Pilates is not a HIIT, cardio or high-calorie burning activity, but is will increase your muscle mass which helps you look more toned and possibly increases your metabolic rate as well, meaning you burn more calories even at rest.
- Increases brain power. There have been some studies which shower subjects had a much better attention span after doing a course of Pilates than they had before. Makes sense if you think about it – gets the blood pumping all around the body (including to the brain), not to mention the reduction in stress allowing you to concentrate better!
- Reduces menopausal symptoms. Another one that’s not much help to the men among you (discuss….!) but again it has been shown in some studies that symptoms such as hot flushes and aches and pains can be reduced with Pilates. Plus it can help build bone density, which will help stave off osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.
- Improve balance. Really, really important. Think how many elderly people you know who have had a fall for no apparent reason, or tripped over something inconsequential, and ended up with severe complications and protracted hospital stays, all because they had poor balance. Well, it’s while it’s never to late to start work on this, clearly it is going to be much better to already have a good solid groundwork in place before you get too frail!
So there you have it. 7 excellent reasons for taking up Pilates (alright, maybe only 5 reasons if you’re male, but my point still stands!). Invaluable in mental, physical and ongoing wellbeing.