Walk past a Pilates studio and it may look like rows of people stretching on torture devices. But Pilates is much more than just stretching. It is a type of resistance training developed more than 100 years ago.
Exercises are achieved through slow, refined and deliberate movements on a reformer machine or an exercise mat using your bodyweight with or without props such as rings, bands, blocks or exercise balls.
You may already be doing some Pilates if you are planking.
Although it may use slow, controlled movements, the benefits of Pilates are plentiful. Studies show Pilates can help improve flexibility, which can support more efficient workouts and less risk of injury.
A 2007 study found that people who finished 10 sessions of Pilates saw a substantial change in dynamic balance. This is mainly due to the strengthening of your core, which leads to better flexibility of the spine and limbs and improved lower-back issues.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, Pilates may help.
Research shows that those who practice Pilates had significantly improved sleep patterns. Not only that, the same study found participants had better moods after practicing Pilates. And who doesn’t want to be happy?
Because Pilates demands thoughtful control of body movements, it can lead to better body awareness and posture. Better body awareness means when you feel tightness in your hips, you are more likely to stand and stretch daily.
One study found that those who practiced one hour of Pilates twice weekly for 12 weeks improved their upper spine and core posture.
Since Pilates is a low-impact exercise, it’s gentle on bones and joints, meaning more people can participate. If you can’t run or jump, you can still practice Pilates and work up a sweat with a full-body workout.
Whether you are new to exercise or a devoted gym rat who wants to add a more flexibility, Pilates may be just the thing. And Pilates can be challenging so mastering it can be a confidence boost, and that’s always a good thing.