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Eight Undisputed Benefits of Practicing Pilates

Posted by Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES on 2 November 2016
Eight Undisputed Benefits of Practicing Pilates

One of the great things about pilates is that it's accessible to everyone. Whether you're 28 or 78, there are many pilates exercises that aren't physically impossible.

And it's irrelevant if you're a freshly minted pilates beginner, or a seasoned vet: pilates are flexible and can be customized to your comfort level, meaning anyone can take advantage of the countless benefits associated with a pilates workout.

Here are a few benefits of adding pilates to your regular exercise routine:

Flexibility

One of the most commonly cited benefits of pilates is increased flexibility. Holding various poses stretches your muscles, increasing your range of motion. This is a sharp contrast to traditional or conventional workouts predicated on weight bearing exercises; pilates elongates, strengthens, and improves muscle elasticity.

Many athletes find pilates to be an excellent pre or post-workout stretch for this reason. It stretches out tense muscles, and simultaneously relieves stress.

Balance

Through holding poses, a pilates workout improves your core strength, stability, posture, and concentration, all of which can contribute to better life balance. Naturally, you won't see results overnight, but with repeated practice, it's possible to sharpen your coordination through pilates.

Concentration

Pilates, similar to yoga, is known as an exercise for harmonizing the mind and body. The key difference between the two is pilates focuses on the mind-body link, while yoga goes one step further in connecting the mind-body-spirit.

Posture

Your mom probably told you good posture meant sitting up straight at the dinner table. It gives off an air of confidence, especially over any Quasimodo-esque hunch alternative.
Good posture is all about aligning your body (particularly your spine) to reduce stress on your body.

Pilates encourage elongating your spine (through all those stretching poses!), and helps strengthen your core, which makes it easier to hold yourself up straight.

Circulation

Pilates rely on a lot of stretching, which is key to getting your blood flowing. Inverted poses and standing poses also break up our regular patterns (most people spend the majority of their day sitting), and get blood moving to other areas of the body that may be prone to being stagnant throughout the day.

Strength

We often think of pilates workouts as low-intensity exercises, but the truth is, they're fantastic for strength building, too. You don't need to pick up weights to build up your strength; it's possible to use your body's own resistance and little more.

While you'll never bulk up to body builder-like proportions with pilates fitness, it's great for building overall body vitality. It targets a variety of muscle groups at once, resulting in an overall increase in strength and tone. This builds a different kind of strength than a targeted exercise (for instance arm curls, or quad lifts), which focus on bulking up the strength of one particular muscle group through repetition.

Core building

One of the best and most recognizable benefits of pilates is building your core strength. Your core is a grouping of muscles in your torso and back (and the muscle group responsible for creating a six-pack, if they're toned enough).

Strengthening these muscles can lead to numerous benefits, such as improved posture and better spine alignment. This alone can help reduce or eliminate back pain, and lessen the occurrence of a variety of sports injuries. In fact, a strong core will help you with your performance in virtually any sport.

Mental health

Pilates is a mind and body exercise, and as such can have a positive impact on your mental health, in addition to your physical health. Through controlled breathing exercises, focus, and increased blood flow, pilates have been proven to help participants reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as boost mental capabilities such as memory and concentration.

That said, pilates exercises should be seen as a complement to traditional psychiatric treatments, not a replacement.


Have you considered making pilates a part of your regular exercise routine? Contact the sports medicine professionals at SEMI to discuss the best options for your physical and mental health.

Author: Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES
About: Dr. Douglas Stoddard is a sports medicine physician and is the Medical Director of the Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute (SEMI). After receiving his medical degree from the University of Toronto, he trained in Australia at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, obtaining his Master Degree in Sports Medicine. He is also a diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and has his focussed practice designation in Sport Medicine from the Ontario Medical Association. Dr. Stoddard is a consultant to the Canadian Military and has consulted with well over 30,000 unique patients in his career. Dr. Stoddard is constantly searching for new and promising therapies to help SEMI patients, and is responsible for developing the RegenerVate Medical Injection Therapy Program. He is married and the proud father of two boys, is an avid triathlete and occasional guitar player.
Tags: Lower body Upper body Performance

 

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