One of the things that makes people most reticent to try their hand at sports, is its perceived difficulty. Activities like running, high impact aerobics and spin cycling sessions often involve a level of fitness that can turn off newcomers and those who are elderly, or recovering from injury. It is precisely at these times in life that physical-mental exercise such as Pilates and yoga, can help. Their ability to be cater to all fitness levels, and the positive effects they have on a host on a host of conditions, make them ideal activities for people of all ages and walks of life. In this post, we mention just a few groups that Pilates can appeal to owing to the documented benefits it bestows:
- Pilates can increase the quality of life in women undergoing menopause: The hormonal changes women experience during menopause can have negative physical and psychological effects. One observational study published in May, 2014, found that a group of 27 women aged 36-63 who took part in two 60-minute sessions of Pilates per week for 12 consecutive weeks, reported physical and mental improvements. Although researchers stated that further, larger-scale studies would be necessary to reaffirm their findings, they found that Pilates held promise as a beneficial activity for women going through menopause.
- Pilates can help the elderly battle loss of strength: Experts from the University of Michigan Health System have found that Pilates can play an important role in strengthening muscle groups which tend to become weaker as we grow older. In addition to pursuing exercises like Pilates and Tai-Chi (which encourage a full range of motion), those approaching their winter years should progressively challenge their resistance levels through dedicated weights/resistance workouts.
- Pilates can aid in rehabilitation after operations such as total hip and knee arthroplasty: Core stability allows patients to establish a stable base for the movement of extremities. Pilates is widely used to help rehabilitate post-op patients and those seeking to recuperate from musculoskeletal conditions such as lower back pain and adhesive capsulitis.
- Pilates can aid those suffering from eating disorders: In many integrative recovery centers for those suffering from eating disorders, yoga and Pilates are favored. Not only is Pilates a gentle form of exercise which can be adapted to more vulnerable physical states; its mindfulness component encourages patients to be more in tune to their body’s needs, feelings and sensations, including hunger and satiety. Pilates can help lower stress levels, which is another bonus for those undergoing the difficult process of overcoming eating disorders and an addiction to exercise. With respect to physical activity, far from focusing on calorie burning, Pilates aids in increasing strength and flexibility, qualities a recovering patient may have lost through excessively intense cardiovascular and strength workouts. This activity, with its focus on strengthening our core, stretching and enabling greater movement, encourages a healthy relationship with our bodies, which is neglected in patients suffering from anorexia or bulimia, who can have an uncomfortable relationship with food and an obsessive attitude towards physical activity.
- Pilates can help those battling Parkinson’s disease: One study, entitled The effects of a supervised Pilates training program on balance in Parkinson’s disease found a six-week Pilates exercise program to be beneficial to patients with Parkinson’s disease who are prone to falls. Pilates improved these patients’ balance and mobility and increased their self-confidence in carrying out daily activities.
- Pilates can help those suffering from fibromyalgia. A small-scale study was carried out on 50 women (25 in a Pilates group, 25 in a control group). Some 12 weeks into the study, improvement was observed in the Pilates group in terms of pain and in the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ). At 24 weeks, improvement was observed only in the FIQ. Scientists stated that since theirs was the first study into this subject, further investigation was necessary; however, they concluded that Pilates was a safe and effective method for persons with fibromyalgia.
- Pilates is for dancers: Because Pilates improves strength, balance, flexibility and control, it is the ideal method for dancers wishing to target all these areas in one workout.
- Pilates is for you: Pilates is ultimately for anyone wishing to tone up and increase their strength and flexibility. Whether you are an elite athlete wishing to prevent or improve injuries, you are a new mom who wishes to get into the shape of your life or you are a keen golfer who wishes to increase your core strength, this is one exercise regime that can be adapted to your ability and needs.