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What Is Pilates? What Are The Benefits?

What Is Pilates? What Are The Benefits?

Pilates is a great way to build up strength; especially within your core.  It improves:

Balance

Posture

Flexibility

Pilates is a form of exercise that involves low to moderate flexibility and muscular strength.  It can also improve your muscle endurance as well.  With that being said, pilates is specifically known for its ability to improve one’s posture and core strength.  During a pilates workout, you should expect to do exercises that will test your stability and core.  You don’t have to be an advanced athlete to do pilates.  It can be suited to anyone’s level.  You also don’t generally need any exercise equipment, however a yoga mat can be recommended.


Pilates Benefits

By regularly practicing pilates, you will improve overall core strength and stability.  Your balance and posture will also improve; no more slouched shoulders!  Because of this, back pain may lessen with time.  Since improving your posture, you’re also improving your spine’s health by bettering its alignment.  Overall flexibility is also one of the many benefits.  Pilates is considered to be injury preventive and rehabilitative.  Pilates is also helpful with managing pain from arthritis, and reducing soreness within your muscles and tendons, by increasing respiratory and circulatory function.

pilates


Pilates Exercises

✓ The 100 – This may be the most commonly known exercise that’s associated with pilates. It’s designed to increase your heart rate and increases blood flow.  To do this exercise, begin by lying on your back with both legs bent in the air at a 90 degree angle (“tabletop position”).  Engage your core, and gently lift your head up as if you were about to do a crunch.  Keeping your shoulders up off of the ground, hover your arms at your sides and start pumping your arms 6-8 inches up and down.  Take deep breaths in and out, inhaling for 5 counts and continuing by exhaling for 5 counts.  Continue this for 10 counts without rest.

✓ Single-leg circles – This exercise will work your abs and legs. Lay on your back with legs straight out and arms down by your sides.  While engaging your core, lift one leg and circle it across your body towards the opposite shoulder, and back around in a circular motion.  If it’s too difficult to perform this exercise with one leg straight out, feel free to modify it by bending your knee so that your foot is flat on the floor.  This will help keep your hips aligned and your core engaged throughout the exercise.

✓ Rollover – Lay on the floor with your arms still placed at your sides, and legs straight out. Begin to lift both of your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor.  Engage your core as you slowly bring your legs behind your head as far as you comfortably can.  Keep your shoulders relaxed, legs straight, and toes pointed.  Reverse the motion back to the starting position, still with control.  This exercise works your core while testing your stability.

pilates

✓ Corkscrew – Another core strengthening exercise, but this one also works your shoulders. Start off by lying on your back and press your hands into the mat, arms straight by your sides.  Lift your legs up together towards the ceiling, toes pointed.  Engage your core, and bring your legs down to the right, coming back around to lift back up at the left into starting position; like the hands of a clock.  Keeping your legs straight throughout the exercise, repeat the same motion in the opposite direction.  To progress this exercise, lean back on your elbows and keep your shoulders back, instead of keeping your head rested on the floor.

✓ Roll up – This exercise targets the abdominals, but isn’t to be confused with the roll over. Begin on the floor, lying on your back with your legs together.  Reach your arms up overhead, shoulder-width apart.  Engage your core, and inhale as you reach your arms overhead.  Exhale as you use your core to peel your spine off of the floor.  Keep your arms parallel to the floor throughout the entire exercise.  Inhale as you slowly roll your spine back down into starting position.


Take Home Message

As you can see, Pilates involves a lot of engaging your core to perform the exercises.  Therefore, pilates is very beneficial for core strength and muscle endurance.  Exercise modifications may be used to meet one’s level of physical endurance and capability.  Give it a try next time you need to switch up your fitness routine!

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Katie Mclean

Katie Mclean

Writer and expert


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