Five rea­sons to do Pi­lates

You can get fit ly­ing on the floor

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F rom run­ning to cy­cling, squash or foot­ball, it’s dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks when it comes to mov­ing our bod­ies. But there’s one form of ex­er­cise that ticks so many boxes and of­fers so many ben­e­fits in our tech-ad­dicted, seden­tary lives. Pi­lates is a sys­tem of ex­er­cises, us­ing a floor mat or other equip­ment, which can im­prove pos­ture, flex­i­bil­ity, strength and men­tal aware­ness. Here are some good rea­sons to give it a try...

IT COULD HELP YOU IM­PROVE IN YOUR PRE­FERRED SPORT

If you think Pi­lates isn’t ‘your thing’, be­cause you pre­fer a par­tic­u­lar sport or more vig­or­ous ex­er­cise, think again.

A strong core, good align­ment and breath­ing tech­nique will all help sup­port your body in your fit­ness pur­suits else­where.

In­vest­ing a lit­tle time in a strong core could pay div­i­dends in terms of boost­ing your over­all per­for­mance and pre­vent­ing in­jury.

“In terms of run­ners, some­times a slight im­bal­ance in the body will go on to cre­ate prob­lems be­cause it’s such a repet­i­tive move­ment you're do­ing. Even a small ad­just­ment in your pos­ture or in your core sta­bil­ity can make a huge im­pact,” says Lynne Robin­son, founder of Body Con­trol Pi­lates (body­con­trolpi­lates.com).

IT CAN HELP WITH CHRONIC PAIN

Of course, any­body with a med­i­cal con­di­tion or chronic pain should seek professional ad­vice. But Pi­lates could be­come a cen­tral, pos­si­bly life-chang­ing, part of how you man­age your con­di­tion.

Strength­en­ing your core and keep­ing mus­cles loose can help sup­port your body and im­prove cir­cu­la­tion. “Ex­er­cise is be­ing de­scribed as the new drug, and is be­ing pre­scribed as ei­ther an al­ter­na­tive to drugs or as a com­ple­men­tary ther­apy. It also has proven ben­e­fits for suf­fer­ers of neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions, as well as the more com­mon pos­tural align­ment ben­e­fits, im­prov­ing lower back pain and in cer­tain cases, even avoiding surgery,” says in­struc­tor Mary Huckle.

IT RE­LIEVES STRESS

Fans of Pi­lates are well aware that it works won­ders for the mind as well as the body, and a re­cent study found it re­ally does help us deal with men­tal and emo­tional stress.

“The sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­sity of Pittsburgh have iden­ti­fied a cir­cuit, which di­rectly links part of the brain to the adrenal medulla [part of the adrenal gland, which trig­gers an adrenal surge when we feel stressed]. The same net­work is also as­so­ci­ated with the part of our brain which con­trols movements,” says Robin­son.

IT’S A GREAT DIS­CI­PLINE

“Pi­lates in its gen­tlest form is very much a

mind/body dis­ci­pline. It calms you inside and out, con­nect­ing you to your deeper core mus­cles,” notes Huckle.

Many an­cient health philoso­phies – which in­formed much of mod­ern medicine – re­volve around holis­tic prin­ci­ples.

It’s some­thing West­ern so­ci­eties have lost touch with in mod­ern times, but we only have to look at our­selves and our own ex­pe­ri­ences to be re­minded just how true it is that phys­i­cal and emo­tional health are closely in­ter­twined: how you get more colds when you’re stressed; why that headache in­ten­si­fies when you’re un­der pres­sure; how dis­trac­tions can take the edge off that sore knee.

PHYS­IOS OFTEN REC­OM­MEND IT

It’s easy to think you need to avoid phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity when in­jured. Yet the op­po­site is true, and stay­ing as reg­u­larly ac­tive as pos­si­ble is ac­tu­ally vi­tal in managing such prob­lems. There’s good rea­son a lot of phys­io­ther­a­pists en­cour­age pa­tients to take up gen­tle Pi­lates.

“Pi­lates ses­sions can re­ally help man­age back pain. We work with our clients on safely strength­en­ing the core pos­ture, deep ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles and pelvic floor mus­cles that pro­tect and sup­port the spine. Reg­u­lar Pi­lates ses­sions are fan­tas­tic for re­cov­ery, pain man­age­ment and preven­tion,” says Laura Her­man of Boost Physio.

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