Pilates is a form of exercise designed to help strengthen the core muscles and improve your stability, and here we give you the top 10 benefits of pilates exercise, as well as some tips to get started with pilates for beginners.
What is Pilates
This low impact exercise can improve flexibility, strength and endurance in very little time. In pilates the emphasis is on the thighs, hips, abdomen and lower back, hips and thighs. In a typical pilate routine one may perform 20-50 different types of repetitive exercises that range from push-ups and sit-ups. Like yoga pilates brings the body and mind together but there is no meditation. In pilates the exercises are never done to the point of exhaustion but one does require concentration. Each exercise require precise movements and places emphasis on breathing, rhythm and body position.
There are many types of pilate exercises and usually one performs them in a specific sequence. The pilate exercises have names like the “swan” “elephant” “100” and so on. While on paper these exercises may look simple, they do require excellent muscle control and precise movements. The overall emphasis of pilates is on technique and not the exercise itself. Pilates can be done at home or at a gym. In the beginning most people learn to perform pilates at a gym and then continue the exercises at home using a DVD. Each pilate class averages about 45 -60 minutes.
Top 10 Benefits of Pilates
Some of the benefits of pilates include the following:
1. Core Body Strength
Strengthens the core meaning your entire body gets stronger except for the arms.
2. Better Balance
Improves balance- by increasing strength of the lower pelvic muscles, this helps to stabilize the lower back and spine. This also helps ease low back pain.
3. Increased Flexibility
Because pilates involves use of multiple joints, it leads to improved joint function and flexibility. It is a great exercise for people with arthritis as with time, it helps ease joint pain. Pilates also helps with recovery of joint function after surgery or trauma.
4. Improved Posture
Improves posture: If you perform pilates regularly, you can develop a well sculpted body with great flexibility and better posture.
5. Weight Loss
Lose weight. Pilates is a great way to lose weight. When you exercise, you burn off fat and this uses up calories. The amount of weight loss depends on the intensity and duration of exercises.
6. Improves confidence
The majority of people who perform pilates feel great about themselves. The exercise builds self confidence and enhances self esteem. The exercise is said to release a number of hormones, which play a role in the improved mood and behavior.
7. Relaxes the mind
Pilates is a great way to relax the mind. Even though the exercise is physically demanding, once it is over, there is complete relaxation of the mind. Most people are also able to get rid of their worries and stress with pilates.
8. Increased Endurance
Increases exercise endurance. Pilates can improve your exercise endurance and tone of your entire body. Mind you, pilates is not a bodybuilding program but one that gradually builds exercise endurance.
9. Pilates for All
Pilates can be performed by people of all ages and both genders. One can select the type of exercise that is suited for them. Because pilates allows individualization of the exercises, it can be done by athletes, pregnant women, the elderly and even individuals with low fitness levels.
Helps with breathing and improves heart function. Pilates places a great demand on the lung and heart. During the workout there is increased blood flow to the lungs and the pumping of the heart is increased. Overall, this leads to more oxygenation and improved breathing even during intense activity.
Pilates for Beginners
Pilates can be done at home and there is no need for any expensive equipment. All you need is a mat and a DVD. You can do pilates in the privacy of your home, at your pace and monitor your own progress. It is important to understand that pilates is just one form of exercise with great health benefits. However, in order to derive the maximum health benefits of pilates, you also need to eat healthy, discontinue smoking and limit consumption of alcohol. If you remain motivated with pilates, you can lose a significant amount of body weight, lower your blood cholesterol and sugars- this in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.
One great way for a beginner to get started, is to view one of the top exercise DVDs, like the recommendations below: