CategoryGeneral Fitness

Why Seniors Should Try Pilates

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.

The 7 Minute Workout

Start with something you learned in elementary school: jumping jacks. Stand up withyour legs spread and your hands touching overhead.Then as you jump, bring your legsback together and put your arms to your sides. You can speed these up or slow themdown to suit your fitness level. Do this for 30 seconds, take a 10-second break, andgo right to the next move. If you’re new to exercise, or it’s been a while, it’s a good ideato get a gym instructor or other fitness pro to help you with proper form.

Push-Ups

Get into a “plank” position on the floor or mat, feet together with toes tucked under, hands planted flat below your shoulders. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor, as far down as you can go keeping back and hips level. Then press back up and repeat for 30 seconds. You can make this easier by resting your weight on your knees instead of your feet.

To boost intensity, try resting your feet on a low bench or step instead of the floor.
 
Ab Crunch  

Start with a basic crunch: Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent and feet on floor. Tighten your core. Press your lower back into the mat and reach toward top of knees. Return to starting position but keep core tight and repeat for 30 seconds.

Step-Up

Stand facing a sturdy chair or bench. Step up onto the chair or bench with your left leg,coming all the way up to stand on it with both feet fully. Then step back down and come back up, starting with your right leg this time. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds.

Get your heart pumping!

Squat  

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes forward. Bend your knees as you hinge at the hips, shifting them back and down like you’re about to sit in a chair. Lower yourself as far as you comfortably can, keeping most of your weight on your heels.

Stand back up. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Triceps Dip on Chair  

Sit on the front edge of a stable and sturdy chair or bench, and put your palms on the edge, fingers pointing forward or slightly toward you. Ease off the chair, supporting your weight with your heels and your palms. Slowly bend your elbows as you lower yourself
toward the floor, then push back up. Repeat for 30 seconds. You can make this exercise more challenging by supporting yourself on one leg at a time.

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