At one time, Pilates was a specialized form of exercise limited to a handful of professional practitioners. In recent times, Pilates has become one of the biggest exercise fads in America. Almost every town and city across this great country has a professional Pilates studio, staffed by certified instructors. Pilates, however, is not just another passing fad. Pilates is here to stay.
Practitioners of Pilates can experience countless benefits including improved posture, flexibility, and balance. This presents a remarkable opportunity for an aging population to perform a series of exercises that are both safe and effective. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the stretching and strengthening of core muscles through the practice of Pilates is an effective strategy for combating the effects of aging.
Aside from the benefits noted above, Pilates can also help with relief from stress and mental tension. It can also have a direct impact on maintaining strength and range of motion, both of which are especially important for our aging populace. Studies have shown that Pilates can also provide relief from back pain and other physical injuries, which are often a primary cause of pain and discomfort.
The wonderful thing about Pilates, and the reason it is so effective for people getting on in age, is that it is a highly effective form of soft exercise. Pilates can be performed at a pace dictated by the strength and stamina of the individual. It is not goal driven, in the way that traditional weight training or body building is. With Pilates, the effectiveness of the exercise is determined by the overall impact on the health of the practitioner. Pilates is all about achieving long term, tangible results.
The key to the effective practice of Pilates is to make the connection between mind and body. Concentration plays a significant role in Pilates. One of the core principles of Pilates is to establish control of the body through discipline and focused thought. Much like Yoga, controlled breathing plays a pivotal role in achieving results in Pilates. Pilates teaches a form of breathing called Lateral Breathing. This is performed by inhaling deeply through one’s nose, and allowing the inhaled air to expand one’s ribcage. This form of breathing is also called Thoracic Breathing.
Pilates is a highly effective approach to maintaining health and vitality, regardless of one’s age or stage in life. While the practice of Pilates is beneficial for many people, it is especially important for our aging population. Aging individuals often lose control of their coordination and muscles, and this can lead to a sense of frustration and mental anguish for people that have grown accustomed to their sense of independence. Pilates can provide people with the tools and techniques they need to age with dignity and a sense of well being. Pilates isn’t for everyone, but it could be ideal for you.