The concept of getting older has undergone a huge shift in perception in recent years, with far less convention on how we should behave and a much greater emphasis on overall health and wellbeing.
As we get older our bone density decreases which can lead to postural problems or conditions such as osteoporosis. And we tend to become less mobile which can cause stiffness and injury.
Pilates is a great form of exercise that is not only accessible to any age, but can improve many functions within the body and help to keep the effects of certain ailments at bay. Here are some of the benefits of taking up Pilates as you get older.
One of the primary focuses of Pilates is to build a strong core (the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine). A strong core not only supports our spine and keeps us upright, it also helps us to move more effectively and takes some pressure away from our weaker extremities such as elbows, knees, wrists and ankles.
Stability & Balance
Pilates teaches control and stability in a small range of motion that can be gradually increased at your own pace. The focus on core work means that everything begins at the centre and slowly moves outwards to the limbs. This can go a long way to improving balance and posture as well as general coordination. So trips and falls become less likely and joints are much happier too.
All the exercises performed in Pilates are very low impact which takes away some of the potential risk that other workouts carry – such as aerobics classes and running. This is particularly good for anyone with arthritis. They are also only partially weight-bearing, which helps to protect the joints whilst muscle strength is improved.
Increased Bone Density & Muscle Mass
The standing exercises in Pilates can help to increase bone density in the spine and hips, whilst also building muscle mass that will help to support knees and ankles. Learning how to stand with good posture can also alleviate the compression of the joints, including arthritic toes.
Though Pilates focusses more on building strength and stability in the body, the gentle mid-range movements can help to reduce rigidity and encourage muscles and joints to limber up. The spine in particular gets a huge workout, with exercises that cover its full range of motion.
Moving With the Breath
Pilates encourages people to combine their movements with controlled breathing which not only helps the body but also an overall sense of wellbeing. As oxygen intake is increased, circulation is improved and exhaling properly helps to reduce tension and tightness in the body.