The Benefits of Pilates for Your Health
Our bodies are amazing, but we don’t always look after them as much as we should.
Staying active is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing, but not everyone can go for a run or lift heavy weights in the gym. And the good news? You don’t need to. Regularly doing slower-paced workouts like Pilates can bring a whole host of health benefits.
We spoke to yoga, Pilates and wellness instructor, Tatiana Wilkins, who has over ten years of experience in the industry, to discuss the many benefits of Pilates and why you should incorporate strength training into your regime to improve your fitness and overall wellbeing.
What is Pilates?
Inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet, Pilates is a form of exercise that was created by (and named after) Joseph Pilates, an anatomist and trainer. It is a slow, low-impact workout, requiring concentration and focus to complete different exercises with control using bodyweight or equipment, and should be done regularly to provide the most benefit.
Is Pilates good for you?
Yes! Pilates is a fantastic type of exercise that concentrates on strengthening the whole body, with a particular focus on core strength, breathing, flexibility and posture – all things we value at HSL. Here are some of the main benefits of Pilates:
Improve mobility and flexibility
Regular Pilates practice can improve your body’s range of motion. When we stretch and lengthen muscles, we move the fascia (the deep connective tissues around the joints and muscles) and this promotes blood flow, which increases flexibility.
“Without regular movement, our muscles become rigid and we lose the ability to move freely.”
– Tatiana Wilkins
Working into these muscles with Pilates is a fantastic way to stay mobile and prevent future injuries.
Ensuring that you maintain proper alignment as you perform each exercise and having solid core strength are two key pillars of Pilates. This helps to stabilise the spine and work on any imbalances, which can do wonders for your posture. It trains the body to be properly aligned and adopt good posture when sitting, standing or walking; a key benefit of Pilates.
Want to improve your posture? Read our guide to correct posture for more information.
Pilates is all about small, controlled exercises, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not challenging! You’ll be amazed at how difficult tiny Pilates strength training movements can be – especially once you’ve completed multiple repetitions. These targeted exercises tone your muscles and build strength by targeting your core, lower back, hips and bottom, but they can be used as a full-body workout.
Increase balance and coordination
Because Pilates is all about small and controlled movements, it’s great for working specific muscles that you might have never worked before or didn’t even know existed! The result? Muscle toning, better balance and improved overall functional fitness. Many Pilates exercises incorporate multiple parts of the body and encourage you to flow through different movements, which is fantastic for improving your coordination too.
Boost your mood
We all know that exercise can benefit your physical and mental wellbeing, and Pilates is no exception.
“The wonderful thing about this kind of exercise is that it benefits both the body and mind. It’s long been proven that the hormones released from exercise can help to boost mental health, which is why exercise can be used as a remedy for low mood and depression.”
– Tatiana Wilkins
Doing regular exercise can boost your energy levels, so it’s a win-win.
Increase body awareness
It’s all too easy to get caught up in life’s fast pace and forget to check in with yourself and your body. Perhaps you’ve got a knot in your back from falling asleep on the sofa, or you’re feeling stressed and are holding lots of tension in your neck and shoulders? Whatever it is, simply becoming aware of any issues is the first step on the road to correcting them – and Pilates can help.
This slow-paced discipline teaches you all about body awareness, which allows you to be more in tune with your body and understand how to exercise intuitively i.e. you know when to push it to build strength or when you need to take a step back to rest and recover.
Another reason why Pilates is good for you is that it can bring greater mental clarity. Much like yoga, by focusing on specific exercises, thinking about control, precision, breath and flow, you can unite the mind and body.
This can help to relieve chronic stress patterns, relax the mind and sharpen your concentration, plus it encourages you to be grounded in the present moment. For more on this, read our beginner’s guide to mindfulness.
It’s for everyone
Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey and your age, Pilates is accessible to all. With thousands of exercises and modifications to choose from, each workout can be tailored to your specific needs. This means that whether you are pregnant, have arthritis, want to target a specific area or are a complete beginner, you can benefit from this fantastic form of exercise. All you need is a mat!
We hope this piece has shown you the many physical and mental benefits of Pilates, and has encouraged you to incorporate this slow-paced practice into your regime. Feeling inspired to try Pilates? Try out our beginner’s video.