Why Pilates is the Best Workout
With hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to stay fit these days, finding your perfect workout can be harder than choosing a meal off a 200 page menu. But before you order your dish of choice, consider the oft-overlooked Pilates. The convenient, effective methods of the practice make Pilates one of the best workouts on the market—no matter what your taste!
1. Minimized Joint Impact
Activities like running and aerobic classes pump the heart rate, but the time spent on your feet, plus the high intensity, can have a big impact on joints. Pilates, on the other hand, is practiced either on a mat or a reformer. The reclined position provides an extremely high quality workout, but without any long term damage on joints.
2. Core Stabilization
Another benefit of Pilates that is hard to find in any other activity is its ability to strengthen the stabilizing muscles. These are small, hard to target groups of muscles that protect important parts of your body, like joints and vital organs. Pilates’ aim is to strengthen these oft neglected, smaller areas, such as the muscles of the pelvic floor, your hip flexors, and aducters (inner thighs). Activating and strengthening these stabilizing muscles is invaluable for improving tone, fitness, and overall physical health.
Red Sox Mat Man
Three-time World Series champion pitcher Curt Schilling attributes losing 15-pounds and gaining both strength and flexibility to his Pilates practice. The 6’4”, 215 lb. right hander was disappointed when he didn’t throw up or pass out after his first Pilates class—was it a real workout if he didn’t? But after just three weeks, he started to see the benefits and has been hooked ever since. “By the fourth week I started to understand the Pilates terminology, the idea of working from your center,” said Boston’s Bloody Sock legend. “By the third month, I was more powerful and flexible than ever before. And I’d lost 15 lbs.”
3. Improved Spinal Alignment
With a larger and larger proportion of the population working at a desk all day, spinal flexibility and proper alignment is becoming a thing of the past. Regular Pilates practice will improve both areas of concern because of the special attention it gives to the powerhouse muscles that stabilize and support the spine. This, eventually, will lead to better posture and reduced back and neck pain.
4. Cardiovascular Health
A study by the American Council on Exercise has shown that in an average advanced Pilates class, the average percentage of maximal heart rate was 62-percent. This falls in the target heart-rate range required for improved cardiovascular fitness.
So, the practice of Pilates provides not only a muscular workout, but an aerobic one as well. Done properly, a class can have the same intensity as jogging with additional benefits to the joints and areas of soft-tissue.
5. Breathing Benefits
One of the lesser known elements of Pilates is its focus on proper breathing. With regular practice, Pilates can help the breathing patterns of everyone from asthmatics and smokers to regular, healthy 22 year-olds. Additionally, the breathing patterns developed in the Pilates method encourages muscle oxygenation, a vital process that helps open muscles up to increased flexibility while decreasing tension.
6. Increased Flexibility
Pilates is one of the few workouts that can lay claim to both strengthening and improving flexibility.
Combining toning work with gentle stretches, the multi-layered approach of the Pilates method is known to increase both muscular and joint flexibility. Whether you’re looking to reach the level of a contortionist or just want to be able to lift your leg off the ground, the improvements in flexibility stemming from Pilates is a wonderful and often unexpected benefit for its practitioners.
7. Whole Body Conditioning
If you’re struggling to find a workout that’s comprehensive, look no further than the nearest Pilates class!
Pilates is engineered to condition the entire body. This means that taking Pilates negates you having to go anywhere else to complete or supplement your workout. A good pilaties class will work everything from the powerhouse muscles to the tip of your toes to your shoulders—toning and strengthening where needed; increasing flexibility when appropriate.
1/6 of Americans suffer from some kind of arthritis.
Stayin’ Alive (And Well)
Pilates is an effective workout with valuable benefits and a minimal amount of risk. So whether you’re looking for a way to stay fit or want to cross train for another sport, it may be just what you need to reach new levels of health and wellness. Use our directory to find a great Pilates studio near you and give it a shot—you may find yourself as surprised as Curt Schilling!