Pilate’s is a low-impact method of exercising that focuses on building core strength, particularly in the abs and the muscles supporting the back, hips and thighs. A typical routine usually involves doing 25 to 50 repetitive strength training moves. While some routines use specialized equipment to add resistance to its exercises, many routines are performed on a mat lying on the floor, meaning you can also practice this form of Pilates at home.
Several health benefits of Pilates can be derived from practicing Pilates including:
Increased core strength
Because all movements originate at the core, not only are the abs strengthened (giving you the flat stomach you’ve always wanted), but also the muscles supporting the lumbar spine, legs and pelvic floor. A strong inner core is the starting point and from there the movements flow outward to develop the extremities.
Better posture and balance
Many injuries of the back are caused by poor posture. Sitting behind a desk eight hours a day is particular detrimental to good posture. Pilates can bring back your straight erectness that you had as a young adult. Plus, because Pilates develops muscles equally, you’ll find that you’ll have better balance. Better balance means less chance of falling and suffering a debilitating injury.
Pilates target not only the back, but also front, sides, hamstrings and hips. By working these body parts through their full range of motion, joints become more flexible. While yoga uses more of a static-type stretching (holding the stretch for up to 30 seconds), Pilates uses dynamic stretching (moving the joint and muscles through a full range of motion, but not holding the stretch). More flexibility makes it easier to do common tasks like mop the floor, carry laundry and vacuum.
Decreased back pain
A common cause of back pain is bad posture. As noted above, Pilates improves posture and can alleviate back pain, before it progresses to an injury. Back pain can also be caused by an imbalance of muscles – one muscle stronger than its opposing muscle. Because Pilates is especially good at improving postural asymmetries, back pain subsides once muscular balance is achieved.
These are only a tip of the iceberg as far as the health benefits that can be derived from Pilates. This exercise program makes a great pre-workout for loosening up muscles and joints in preparation for a more demanding cardio or weight training program.