Many people ask me “ I don’t have a back problem or any injuries so why should I do Pilates?” To get the most out of a Pilates class/session, you need to connect to your body and be in the moment, over time and with experience; this can improve overall mind/body awareness and become a form of moving meditation.
While the concept of mind/body awareness became uber fashionable recently, Joseph Pilates and his peers were decades ahead of their time. The bonus of this approach is that everything you learn in a Pilates class carries over into other activities, making you more aware of how you move and hold your body in your daily life. Numerous research studies have uncovered many other benefits to the method, here are just a few.
Reduces stress and anxiety.
Some of us arrive to class feeling stressed or anxious but leave feeling good? Wonder why? This isn’t just in your head or the result of my terrible jokes; according to a US university study, mindful exercise appears to change the chemistry of the brain by causing the release of the chemical GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid). This is a neurotransmitter these function as chemical messengers. GABA helps quieten the brain activity resulting in that Ahhh! Post-class calm.
Regular exercise, including Pilates, can reduce the risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. Some studies suggest it can also decrease your chances of developing more common illnesses, such as colds, and shake them off more quickly if you succumb.
One study showed that people who exercised regularly for 10 weeks reported improved sleep patterns, including getting to sleep much faster and a decreased need for sleep-promoting medication. The flow, rhythm and breathing used in Pilates can facilitate this too.
Improves long-term brain function
All exercise increases chemicals in the brain that help cognition, such as dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin, and improving the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain.
Reduces levels of the stress hormones
Cortisol is a chemical that prepares our body for a fight-or-flight response. It raises blood pressure and heart rate. It’s supposed to be in the body just for a short period; continual high levels high in our blood can contribute to low immunity, sickness, poor sleep and low mood. Exercise is beneficial in reducing stress in the body and making you more resilient to future stress triggers.
Reduces insulin level and improves insulin sensitivity
Insulin is the energy storage hormone; the higher the insulin levels in your blood, the more energy you consume will be put into the fat cells. Too much insulin makes you store fat, feel tired and want to sit on the sofa. If insulin is in your blood, it blocks the signal in your brain that you are full. Your brain thinks you are starving, even though you’ve just eaten an enormous meal. You keep overeating. When your brain becomes more sensitive to the insulin levels in your blood, it “sees” that you’ve eaten, and it will be less likely that you’ll reach for that snack.
Improves digestion and bowel function
Pilates encourage deeper, fuller and longer breaths; good functional breathing results in the diaphragm contracting and moving down with inhalation, then relaxing and moving up with exhalation. This pumping action “massages” the digestive organs helping blood supply, improving our absorption of nutrients and abdominal discomfort such as IBS. Pilates increases the movement of the whole torso, which increases the contractions of the wall of the intestines’ massaging’ internal organs, helping to move things along through the intestinal tract more efficiently, preventing constipation.
Exercise releases endorphins, the brain’s natural “feel-good” chemicals that boost mood and relieve stress. Pilates can enhance self-esteem and self-confidence.
One of the fundamental principles of Pilates is relaxation. Classes teach you how to move your body more efficiently while letting go of muscular tension and poor movement patterns, thus helping you release bad habits. You learn how to relax the parts of you that don’t need to work so hard and move your body more efficiently.
Younger looking, more blemish-free skin.
The increase in circulation delivers more blood flow and nutrients to our skin while removing impurities and waste. The result is a healthier-looking complexion!
Please note: This is for guidance only, it should not be regarded as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment given in person by an appropriately trained health professional