5 Benefits of Pilates Beyond a Stronger Core
There’s a popular myth that the main benefit from Pilates is a stronger core. Truth is, there are many benefits from Pilates-based exercise, and they are not limited to the core or even your physical body. Doing Pilates just to tone your midsection is a bit like saying ‘let’s go for a hike in nature to get our 10,000 steps for the day’. You will hit your target but going for a hike in nature brings many more benefits than your step count. In this article we look at 5 benefits of Pilates that go beyond the core.
Many clients tell us they want a stronger core and flatter tummy. They achieve this quickly enough. What keeps them coming back, is improved self confidence, posture, flexibility, and energy levels.
1. Better Breathing
The first one that comes to mind is better breathing, resulting from more oxygen in and more carbon dioxide out! For most of us, breathing happens involuntarily, without thinking about it. During a Pilates session however, focusing on the breath helps you to move more effectively. This is because increased focus on the breath helps to calm and focus the mind, reduce tension, release harmful toxins from the body, as well as stimulate the release of feel-good endorphins in the brain.
Linked with mindfulness, better breathing improves body awareness and the mind-body connection. When you concentrate on performing a movement with control and precision, it becomes as much of a mental workout as a physical one. We live in an era that demands we are constantly on the go and always ‘switched on’ mentally. The improved focus you gain during Pilates, brings improved self-awareness, balance and coordination, in a way that leads to balanced muscle development. A balanced body moves more efficiently and is less likely to experience pain from muscle imbalances and tension.
3. Whole Body Movement
Pilates is about whole body movement, not just working your abs. Pilates seeks to work every part of your body in many different directions and movement planes. You’ll use your core in different ways to get a balance between stabilising and mobilising your entire body thereby training the body in an integrated way. Pilates promotes strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion in the joints.
4. A More Flexible Spine
According to founding father Joseph Pilates, ‘You are only as young as your spine is flexible’. It is the optimal balance between joint strength and mobility that allows you to move with ease and grace. Pilates helps your body to move more efficiently and with less stiffness and/or pain. Thankfully it doesn’t stop in the Pilates studio. Practise regularly, and you’ll remember your teacher’s cues on how to move or hold yourself better throughout the day. You should start to notice you hold yourself taller while certain movements and daily activities become easier.
5. For Any Fitness Level
Whether you are a senior, a junior, an athlete, recovering from injury or experiencing some recent neck pain, the foundations of Pilates will benefit you. When you start from a personal, holistic approach, add correct body alignment, and layer thousands of ways to modify exercises, you have a practise that is accessible to everyone. Pilates workouts can be done in group or class environments, at home or in a studio. Anywhere you choose to practise, Pilates can be tailored to your individual needs and ability. At Moss we really enjoy teaching our clients how to maximise their efforts so they can achieve their goals faster and more effectively.
Numerous scientific studies reveal more health benefits to Pilates which we will share in subsequent posts. In the meantime, think about these five benefits that go beyond the core the next time you practise Pilates.