The Many Benefits of
Tone Your Muscles, Reduce Stress and Recovery Faster From Injury.
If your gym or fitness center offers Pilates classes, you have undoubtedly overheard folks in the locker room
singing the praises of Pilates. Much like yoga students, Pilates students border on the fanatical in support of
their exercise program. Just ask any Pilates student how they like the class and you're likely to hear "It's
awesome", "I've never felt better", and "I can't believe I waited this long to start doing Pilates".
(Pilates Reformer XP by Stamina Pictured Above Right)
But what are these raving Pilates students really saying? How does Pilates benefit the body, mind and spirit?
Does an hour of Pilates movements result in simply an overall feeling of well-being, or are there specific physical
and mental benefits that can be attributed to consistent Pilates workouts?
You asked the questions and we've answered them. Below is an outline of the health benefits that have been linked
to the Pilates fitness method.
How Does Pilates Help Your Body?
Pilates starts by teaching body awareness. This means that more you do the exercises, the more aware you will be of
how you hold your body while doing mundane daily chores. You'll find yourself pulling your shoulders down and back
when sitting on the bus, or pulling your abs in while you blow-dry your hair.
Pilates movements are designed to maximize the strength of your core muscles. Think of your body as a tree. The
core muscles wrap the trunk to give you a strong foundation, while your arms and legs are the limbs. It's important
to remember that a strong core does not necessarily equate to 6-pack abs. Pilates will add flexibility to your ab
muscles, but to make them show, you'll need to focus on weight loss (more cardio and a healthy low-carb protein
Athletes, dancers and gymnasts love Pilates because it teaches body control and how to move properly. Celebrities
such as Madonna, Cameron Diaz and Sting have all practiced Pilates. But everyday folks can also benefit by learning
to keep the shoulders down, head in alignment with the spine and abs contracted while going about the business of
How Does Pilates Reduce Stress?
Controlled breathing is one of the principles of the traditional Pilates method. It is at the "core" of every
movement, exercise and pose. When you are focused on breathing properly, with complete concentration, your mind is
quiet and free from stress and anxiety.
Most of us react to stress with shallow, chest-based breathing. Because we aren't getting enough oxygen with each
breath, we tend to feel even more jittery and nervous. By practicing deep breathing, we can switch off the stress
response and break the stress cycle. The Pilates method teaches deep abdominal breathing that soothes the nervous
system. The physical benefits of deep breathing are: a lower heart rate, reduced blood pressure, reduced production
of stress hormones, reduced production of lactic acid in the muscles, increased energy, a more effective immune
system, and a general feeling of calmness.
How Does Pilates Assist in Recovery From Injury?
The Pilates exercise machines have been found to greatly assist regular physical therapy in the recovery
of various injuries. The method has been found to be effective at any time during the recovery period and has
been known to significantly reduce the healing time.
Although the Pilates method is designed as an overall body system, it can be used to target specific areas of the
body. The emphasis on proper breathing technique is critical to the healing process, as greater amounts of oxygen
and improved circulation can work together to greatly accelerate the healing time.
Pilates sessions also takes pressure off the patient's back and neck, and help improve flexibility that is often
lost as a result of physical trauma. Pilates can also help reduce pain by building new neuromuscular patterns,
better coordination and endurance.