Our modern sedentary lifestyles have brought about one of the biggest tragedies in human history – lots and lots of lifestyle diseases that kill tens of millions per year. Exercising regularly is one of the proven ways to keep lifestyle ailments at bay and have a fitter, stronger body. Pilates is one of the increasingly popular workouts, alongside yoga, which is not a surprise as its benefits go beyond the physical realm. Here is an overview of the many other benefits of Pilates beyond a strong core, with scientific evidence thrown in for good measure.
First Things First, What Are Pilates Exercises?
Pilates is a kind of low-impact training designed to isolate and strengthen various muscles all over the body. Notably, the primary purpose is to improve the core strength with an additional emphasis on posture and flexibility. Like yoga, pilates can be performed on a thick mat or a sliding platform-like machine called a reformer.
What Does Pilates Do for Your Body?
Having known what are Pilates exercises, the next logical step is to look at the different benefits of the exercise and we start with the commonly known ones:
- Improves your posture
- Makes your muscles more toned
- Strengthens your core, including abs
- Makes you more flexible
Now to the lesser known, but scientifically proven benefits of Pilates:
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Pilates
Regular Pilates can increase abdominal endurance and make one’s abdominal muscles stronger and more prominent. This is according to a 2016 study by the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. If you’re an athlete, enhanced abdominal endurance will help you minimize fatigue and injuries. Normal people also find it much easier to perform tasks like tying shoelaces and lifting heavy objects when they have more enduring abs.
There are more than 30 different types of Pilates exercises for abdominals you can try out, after consulting your instructor, of course. The most popular ones include Roll Up, The One Hundred, Single Leg Stretch, Obliques Roll Back and the Criss Cross. Apart from the abs, these exercises also improve your hamstrings and upper body muscles as well. You may want to check some well-known companies related to sports like Max Polyakov’s Noosphere that believes that sports improve our health, increase our energy, and boost confidence.
Benefits to People with Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions
Pilates helps in managing musculoskeletal conditions
According to a recent study, coordinated pilates exercises could be essential in reducing pain from chronic musculoskeletal conditions and consequently lead to better lives for the patients. The study claims that people with diseases such as peripheral joint osteoarthritis, chronic back pain, or recovering from major surgery were in much better physical shape after 12-week Pilates programs. Additionally, attending Pilates sessions was seen to have a positive impact on the patients’ overall temperaments and helped them lead more active (and thus healthier) lifestyles.
Improved Self-Efficacy and Sleep Quality among Students
Most questions about Pilates are along the lines of ‘Does Pilates build muscle?’ ‘ what are the benefits of Pilates vs yoga?’ ‘how does yoga help your body vis a vis Pilates?’, etc. An often overlooked fact is that Pilates offers lots of psychological benefits on top of the physical. As this study found, one semester of Pilates workouts led to improvements in sleep quality, mood/temperaments, and self-efficacy among college students. It has also been observed that mindfulness – the state of being conscious or aware – is generally higher amongst people who do Pilates.
Pilates is increasingly getting into conversations about fitness and the surge in popularity can partly be attributed to its convenient and inexpensive nature. For one, most Pilates routines can be conducted on a Pilates mat and even the other equipment is not expensive at all. It also helps that most fitness studios are also offering pilates sessions and there are dozens of YouTube channels giving pointers and tutorials as well.
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