Key health benefits of Pilates

Siski Green / 21 January 2015

If you want to be more flexible, stronger and well-balanced, Pilates is a great option - read our guide on the practice's key health benefits.

Pilates is a blend of calisthenics, yoga and ballet designed initially to help people recover from injuries. While many people do use it after an injury, doing pilates regularly will some pretty dramatic effects on anyone’s body.

1. How Pilates improves posture

Neck ache, back ache, headache, even stomach ache - you name it, most aches can occur as a result of bad posture. In pilates this is called alignment, where muscles are not straining to hold your body up and your head, hips, feet and so on are positioned in such a way as to allow muscles to work effectively without putting excess strain on one muscle group over another. 

Extra benefits: As you correct your alignment or posture, you’ll find you put less pressure on sensitive joints such as knees and hips, for example. You’re also less likely to suffer a strain or injury. You’ll also look better – taller, leaner and more confident. 

Related: Tips to improve your posture

2. Pilates and improving flexibility

While yoga is renowned for being the best way to improve flexibility, pilates can be more effective for some people. Rather than utilising static, ie unmoving, stretches, pilates focuses on movements while stretching. This means the muscles are warm as you stretch, allowing you to stretch farther with less pain. 

Extra benefits: The more flexible you are, the less muscle tension you’ll endure. You’ll also enjoy better blood circulation as the blood can flow more freely around a body that isn’t stiff or stuck in one position most of the time.

3. Boost stamina with pilates

Because pilates is done in sequences with several repetitions, your body is learning to endure exercise for longer periods each time. At first, some exercises might seem tiring but as you continue to work on the moves, and the sequences, you’ll find that your endurance improves. 

Extra benefits: It’s not just your body that becomes better at sticking to exercise, your mind is also affected. The more often you push through to finish a pilates sequence, the more confident you’ll feel in your own abilities. 

4. How to get more muscle power with pilates

The slow and deliberate movements of pilates might not seem likely to produce strength in the same way as lifting weights, for example, but in fact pilates strengthens the whole body in a way that weight lifting doesn’t. For example, pilates is known to be particularly good at targetting the abdominal obliques, a group of muscles to the side of your stomach, which it’s very difficult to do in other ways. It also strengthens your core muscles, not just your arms and legs, making you stronger overall. 

Extra benefits: Your body will look evenly toned and muscular, rather than top or bottom-heavy in terms of muscle. 

Related: The importance of preventing muscle loss

5. Get a better-looking body with pilates

With a straighter back, a tighter tummy and better overall muscle tone, you’ll look leaner and taller. What’s more, because pilates doesn’t focus on just one part of your body, you’ll see changes all over. 

Extra benefits: As your body looks leaner and taller, you may also find that some of your body’s systems may work better. For example, you may find that it’s easier to digest food. 

6. Reduce stress with pilates

Pain and bad posture can add to your stress levels and not only does pilates help alleviate those problems, it also works to calm you. As pilates focuses on breathing, you become mindful of your breath, of your body and muscles, and it becomes like a form of meditation. 

Extra benefits: You’ll enjoy better sleep once you start doing regular pilates, partly because it is calming but also because your body isn’t full of physical or psychological tension.

Related: What stress does to your health

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