13 Shocking Health Benefits of Pilates Exercise
If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried plenty of different fitness trends, from planking to buti yoga (this is a weird one).
But what the heck is pilates?
Just like any fitness trend, Pilates comes with endless health benefits. It might be hard to believe if you’ve never tried it before since Pilates doesn’t appear to be difficult from the outside.
According to Self, “Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility”.
Low impact exercises are intended to reduce the amount of wear on your joints. These types of exercises are perfect for those with arthritis, joint pain, or injuries. But why would someone want to do Pilates if they don’t have any physical health concerns?
When I first tried Pilates, I found myself laying on the floor stiff as a board, pulsing my arms away from the floor over and over. In short, I probably looked like I’d lost my mind!
Even though Pilates is a “low-impact” exercise, I felt a high-impact on my body. I was so sore.
So, let’s find out if this strange exercise is worth your time (and dignity).
The Benefits of Kicking Butt in Pilates
1. Reduces back pain
During quarantine we all began working from home and skipping the gym. I’d be surprised if you haven’t developed back pain since COVID-19 struck. Who doesn’t have back pain these days?
There is some great news, however! Pilates can help reduce and even prevent back pain by strengthening those muscles that work to support you all day. The results aren’t immediate, but I can almost promise you that if you keep up the exercise, you will slowly start feeling relief from your back pain.
2. Low wear on your joints
Are you someone who has a chronic illness or injury? Exercise can be painful if you live with one of these conditions or are prone to sore joints.
Fortunately, Pilates was designed with injured soldiers and dancers in mind according to MedicineNet. Since the exercise is gentle on your joints, you will experience much less pain. Pilates can also reduce your symptoms of certain chronic illnesses.
Pilates is also a good option even if you don’t have chronic illness or injuries. If you get soreness in your knees and other joints from running and lifting, you may want to engage in Pilates for a few days to let your joints recover while still building and retaining muscle.
3. Improves flexibility
Can you touch your toes right now? Go ahead, try it!
If you struggled to reach them, or found it was painful, you’ve most likely fallen victim to the sedentary lifestyle most of us has adopted since COVID-19.
Maintaining flexibility is crucial to preventing injuries and helping your blood carry important nutrients to all your cells, including oxygen. Thankfully, Pilates is one of those exercises that simultaneously builds strength while improving flexibility. I would still recommend stretching before you exercise, just to be extra safe.
4. Increases blood circulation
Do you sit for long periods while working? Many of us have poor circulation due to sitting for too long. Signs of poor blood circulation are tingling, numbness, muscle cramps, pain, and throbbing pain in your limbs according to Healthline.
However, this condition can be improved with exercise and working on muscle flexibility. Pilates is the perfect candidate for the job. As I mentioned before, Pilates simultaneously improves both strength and flexibility. Over time, you will begin to notice a decrease of these symptoms.
5. Prevents disease
One of our most relatable concerns lately is worry over contracting COVID-19.
Pilates can help us reduce our risk of disease because it increases our blood flow and helps to strengthen our immune systems. Not only this, but it improves circulation which helps your organs function better, preventing long-term diseases.
There have also been studies showing that a regular workout regimen can prevent severe cases of COVID-19, according to CNBC. That’s a huge relief.
6. Help heal injuries
If you have an injury that prevents you from exercising, I have good news for you! Pilates strengthens our muscles in a low-impact way, which helps us to gain extra muscle support while taking it easy on our injuries. The increased support can help your injuries heal.
This extra support also aids in the prevention of future injuries, which is a huge bonus in my book.
7. Improves posture
Do you have bad posture?
Pilates is a core workout that strengthens all the important muscles that support your posture. You will likely notice improved posture and decreased back pain.
Better posture can also help you to appear more confident, and feel more confident too!
8. Energy Booster
If you find yourself getting tired quickly, Pilates can help! You will feel an increase in energy over time because your posture, blood circulation, and injuries will improve.
With your extra boost, you will be able to focus your precious energy on more important things.
While Pilates exercise comes with many benefits that we would expect from any exercise, such as improved muscle tone, increased strength, and prevention of cardiovascular disease, there are plenty of surprising benefits that do not come to mind.
9. Improved mental health
If mental health is a concern for you, I know you have heard the phrase “exercise more” before. That statement can be frustrating. However, in this case, it is very different.
Taking care of your mental health is crucial. Since Pilates is all about focusing on the breath and controlled movements, the effects are similar to meditation. It is quite the grounding exercise, developing a stronger relationship between mind and body.
Grounding can help with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression (and many others). It brings your attention to the present moment, instead of being trapped in your thoughts. It truly helps quiet the mind.
10. A healthy challenge
When we fall into a routine, each day can start to feel the same. Sometimes, having a new goal or challenge can help us break free of monotony.
Completing a challenge can help boost your confidence and motivation. You can start with something simple such as “for at least 3 days this week, I will try 15 minutes of Pilates”. Learning about SMART goals can help you with this!
Pilates is a highly rewarding exercise. You will feel a sense of accomplishment after each workout, and you will feel that post-workout soreness that only comes from an effective exercise.
11. Makes everyday life easier
If you struggle with lifting things or find yourself getting tired quickly from everyday tasks, you’re not alone in that. Many of us have begun to experience these difficulties since the pandemic, especially if you have lingering symptoms from COVID-19.
Committing to a regular Pilates workout routine can make your daily tasks and not-so-daily tasks much easier for you. I am much more productive and happier when I have a regular workout. The benefits of increased muscle strength, increased energy, and improved mental health makes my to-do list far easier to conquer.
12. Pilates is portable
Have you ever skipped a workout because you didn’t want to go anywhere?
You don’t need any fancy equipment to get your daily workout in. Just do some pilates at home! You only need enough clear space for you to lay down. You may want a yoga mat to make the surface you workout on easier to grip or more comfortable.
You can also bring your yoga mat to out your yard or a park if you feel comfortable! This way you will get your much-needed vitamin D as well. More vitamin D helps improve your mood!
13. It can make you taller
I know this sounds far-fetched, but it’s true!
Pilates improves your posture and can elongate your muscles, which contributes to height. I know height may not be that important to many people, but I thought it was a pretty cool fact.
If you’re determined to find a way to become taller than your younger sister (like I am), this may be a reason for you to try Pilates!
There are still many more benefits of Pilates that I didn’t mention, but I chose the benefits that I believe are most impactful or interesting.
To sum it up for you, Pilates is an amazing exercise for improving your posture, flexibility, circulation, mental health, and overall well-being. If you don’t already have Pilates included in your workout routine, I highly recommend it. Especially if you have a chronic illness or injury that prevents you from exercising.
If you don’t quite know where to start, you don’t necessarily need to take a Pilates class. There are plenty of videos on YouTube demonstrating the exercise. That’s where I get most of my workout ideas from!
I hope this article helped you learn something new, and that it inspired you to try this gentle yet effective exercise.
Oh, and before you go on with your day, make sure you stay hydrated! :)