There are many exercise programs that help improve physical fitness and provide multiple health benefits. Exercise formats like aerobics, weight training, strength training, Pilates and yoga all provide different benefits. All exercises are designed to provide any or all of the four basic things; endurance, balance, flexibility and strength.
Aerobics tests your endurance and focuses on increasing your heart rate for a healthy body. Yoga focuses on flexibility and improving balance. Whereas weight and strength training mainly focuses on improving muscle strength.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is an exercise form which is similar to yoga but with more focus on core strength. It involves movements that improve endurance, flexibility and muscular strength. It is a low impact exercise which focuses on technique rather than a number of reps. Pilates focuses on building core strength, balance and proper alignment.
Joseph Pilates developed this exercise form in the 20th century. Pilates is hence named after its creator. It has been practiced by millions of people since then. Pilates provides a number of health and physical benefits and improves the sense of well-being.
Pilates is popular among people who like to challenge themselves. It requires a considerable amount of control as the movements are very precise. The movements test your balance, flexibility. Although Pilates focuses more on core, abdominal and pelvis strengthening but each movement involves other muscles as well.
Pilates involves a series of movements which are performed consecutively, one after the other in controlled fashion. All the movements must be done by the book with correct posture and alignment to reap the full benefits of the exercise.
Pilates does not usually require any equipment other than a floor mat. There are Pilates machines available called reformers. It is an equipment which provides added resistance in the workout.
If you do Pilates at home follow a Pilates DVD workout program for correct posture, alignment and technique. The guide will help you understand the movements better. If you are attending a Pilate’s class, your trainer will help you correct your posture.
Further you can choose group or even a private Pilate class to help master the technique. A typical Pilate’s class is 45 mins long.
What are the Benefits of Pilates?
Pilates is known for providing several benefits. It is an exercise form that involves both mind and body. Proper movement and technique involved in this physical fitness system is crucial. Some of the benefits of this amazing workout routine are described below.
Pilates heavily emphasizes on movements that trigger core muscles. The muscles in the center or core of the body like abdominal muscles and pelvis are the ones that work the most during Pilates. It helps in working those deep abdominal muscles which are not targeted by any Yoga posture.
Pilates help get a flat stomach and abs. the muscles close to the spine are also targeted during Pilate movements which help elongate the spine and improve posture.
Pilates improves flexibility by strengthening and elongating all the muscles. This helps improve muscle elasticity and lower the risk of injury. Pilate is a low impact exercise form which also enhances joint mobility. Increased strength and flexibility is what make Pilates so popular among ballet dancers.
Complete Mind-Body Workout
Pilates refreshes both mind and body. It involves various muscle groups in the body and helps strengthen them. Whereas, it requires a considerable amount of focus and concentration which improves mind set and reduce stress levels.
The breathing techniques and patterns involved in the exercise ensure that you feel energized after the workout. It requires concentration as you move from one movement to the other one after the other without breaking the pattern.
Pilates is a gentle form of exercise which provides amazing and effective results. It focuses on the quality and technique of the movement rather than the number of repetitions. It helps target muscles without exhausting them out with repetitive movement.
Repetition increases the risk of muscle tear and injury because if one rep goes wrong it stresses the muscles during the following reps. Pilates focuses on lengthening the muscle rather than building small muscles. Small muscles built through repetitions are prone to more injuries.
Pilates help target and tone muscles. It tones the muscles in your back, hips leg, arm and core muscles and give a more shredded and sleek appearance. Pilates activates all the muscles and help tighten them.
Pilate is beneficial or people belong to all age groups. It is an excellent exercise form for elderly people. It helps with maintaining posture as it emphasizes on alignment and elongating the spine. Older people who usually complain of back pain can benefit greatly by Pilate movements.
Pilate is all about concentration, focus and balance. It enhances your balance by improving the connection between your mind and body. Pilates focuses that you breathe in a rhythm with full awareness of how your body is moving along with each flowing movement. This in turn improves your balance.
Pilates is a great stress relieving exercise. The smooth and flowing movements with controlled breathing ensures that the mind is relaxed. This reduces the stress and anxiety levels. People with depression can benefit immensely by incorporating this exercise form in their daily routine.
Sense of Well-Being
Pilates nourishes the body from inside out. It improves the mind-body relation which gives a sense of well-being. Your body may not sweat as much during a Pilate class but it helps you feel extremely good about yourself.
Pilates is a low impact exercise form but that does not mean that you won’t feel it in your muscles. It targets even the deepest muscles and works them to the extent that you feel it. The core muscles may become sore after initial workouts but it results in more defined and toned muscles.
Once you are familiar with the basic movements, modifications help amp up the movements. The range of intensity level can be increased to an advanced level to help challenge your body.
Upper body Workout
Pilates is a full body workout including the upper body. Shoulders, arms and neck all are targeted during Pilate movements. It helps tone all the arm and shoulder muscles. It also relieves the neck and relaxes stiff neck and shoulder muscles.
Pilate movements focus on breathing techniques and patterns which improves overall breathing habits. It also increases the lung capacity and oxygen circulation to the muscles. Most Pilate movements are smooth and have a flowing pattern which ensures that the breathing rhythm is not disturbed during the switch from one movement to other.
Pilates is a great overall workout. It provides great health benefits as it makes both your mind and body stronger. It improves your balance, posture, flexibility, strengthens and tones muscles. When paired with other cardio exercises it becomes a complete physical fitness workout program.
Pilates provide all the benefits of strength training, any kind of cardio exercise can ensure improved endurance. You can choose any aerobic exercise to combine with Pilates. Such as brisk walking, running, swimming, jogging or cycling. Include at least 75 minutes of aerobic activity in a week for a balanced fitness program.