1. Health

The Many Benefits of Pilates Exercise

A Top 10 List of Great Reasons to Do Pilates

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Updated April 11, 2014

There are far more than 10 reasons to do Pilates. For example, better sleep and better sex aren't even on this list, but they could be. I'm starting with 10 because I want to inspire you and give you the opportunity to follow-up on the aspects of Pilates training that interest you. My personal list of the benefits of Pilates could reach way past 20 items. But start here and see what you think. Is Pilates right for you?

If you already do Pilates, read the list and see if your favorite reason to do Pilates is here. If not, visit the Pilates forum and tell us about it. You can also take the poll: Why Do You Do Pilates?

1. Pilates is Whole-Body Fitness

Unlike some forms of exercise, Pilates does not over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. While Pilates training focuses on core strength, it trains the body as an integrated whole. Pilates workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.

Attention to core support and full-body fitness -- including the breath and the mind -- provide a level of integrative fitness that is hard to find elsewhere. It is also the reason that Pilates is so popular in rehab scenarios, as well as with athletes who find that Pilates is a great foundation for any kind of movement they do.

 

2. Adaptable to Many Fitness Levels and Needs

Whether you are a senior just starting to exercise, an elite athlete or somewhere in between, the foundations of Pilates movement apply to you. Building from core strength, focusing on proper alignment, and a body/mind integrative approach make Pilates accessible to all. With thousands of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates workouts can be tailored to individual needs.

3. Creates Strength Without Bulk

Long, lean muscles are the name of the game here. In Pilates, we are not looking to build muscles for show. We are building toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole, and the functional fitness needs of a person as they move through life.

One of the ways that Pilates creates long, strong muscles is by taking advantage of a type of muscle contraction called an eccentric contraction.

4. Increases Flexibility

In Pilates, we work toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and range of motion within the joints. You won't find quite as much "pretzel logic" in Pilates as you might in yoga, but a body that can stretch and bend to meet the flow of life is a very realistic goal.

5. Develops Core Strength

The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their jobs -- and not more. A nice side benefit is that the core training promotes the flat abs that we all covet.

6. Improves Posture

Good posture is a reflection good alignment supported by a strong core. It is a position from which one can move freely. Starting with Pilates movement fundamentals and moving through mat and equipment exercises, Pilates trains the body to express itself with strength and harmony. You can see this in the beautiful posture of those who practice Pilates.

7. Increases Energy

It might seem like a paradox, but the more you exercise, the more energy you have and the more you feel like doing (to a point, of course). Pilates gets the breath and circulation moving, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with the good feelings one gets from exercising the whole body.

8. Promotes Weight Loss and Long, Lean Appearance

If you practice Pilates regularly, it will change your body. Known for creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look; Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace. All of these things will make you look and feel very fit.

If you want to lose weight, the formula for weight loss remains the same: Burn more calories than you take in. As a full-body fitness method, Pilates help will help you do that. Combined with aerobic activity, Pilates becomes a prime weight loss and body toning tool.

9. Increases Awareness - Body/Mind Connection

Joseph Pilates was adamant that Pilates, or contrology as he called it, was about "the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit." This is one of the secrets of Pilates exercise: we practice each movement with total attention. When we exercise in this way, the body and mind unite to bring forth the most benefit possible from each exercise. The Pilates principles -- centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow -- are key concepts that we use to integrate body and mind.

10. There are Many Ways to Learn Pilates

Pilates instruction is easy to come by these days. The ever-growing popularity of Pilates has put it on the map all over the world. This is good because when you start Pilates training, it is important to start with live Pilates instruction at a studio or gym, and preferably from a certified instructor. But there are lots of ways to supplement your learning once you get going. You can practice at home and you don't need one bit of fancy equipment, just comfy clothes and a mat.

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