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Health and Fitness News

The Core of Pilates

Getting to the core of Pilates.

Developed back in the 1920s by a man named Joseph Pilates, Pilates workouts are a series of low-impact movements that work to improve flexibility while building core strength and endurance. Throughout each movement, proper form, posture, control, and breathing are emphasized. It’s not a cardio workout, but rather Pilates is effective strength training. For this reason, Pilates shouldn’t be your only form of exercise. Be sure to include cardio exercise such as jogging, swimming, or cycling as well.

Whether done at home watching a video or in a class at the gym, Pilates is a workout that’s loved by millions around the world. Is it for you? Keep reading to learn the basics.

A Strong Core

The center of your body is called your core. Pilates is highly effective at strengthening and sculpting your core muscles, which consist of your abdominal and back muscles that surround the spine. It’s control of these muscles that leads to flat abs and a strong back.

Since many of the movements in Pilates use your body weight as resistance, your arm and leg muscles definitely get a workout as well.

A Mind-Body Workout

Similar to yoga, Pilates is known as a mind-body workout. Each exercise leads you through precise movements and proper breathing techniques. As you concentrate on keeping your body aligned and breathing through each movement, you learn how to control your body. Deep breathing is one way to manage stress, and who can’t use a little more stress management?

Increased Flexibility

The movements of Pilates lead to long, lean muscles. This type of muscle has greater mobility, more elasticity, and is less prone to injury. That’s because long, lean muscles are a key part of flexibility. Having a greater range of motion means fewer injuries, less pain, improved performance, better posture, and increased strength.

Improved Posture

Proper posture matters more than you may think. By strengthening your core, Pilates helps you sit and stand up straight. An aligned body means improved circulation and digestion, a more confident appearance, easier breathing, less stress on bones and joints, and a healthy spine.

Muscle Balance

If all you do is ride a bike, then your lower body may be stronger than your upper body. If rowing were your only form of exercise, then your upper body would be stronger than your lower body. Muscular imbalance is one reason many people struggle with injuries and chronic back pain. One benefit of Pilates is that it offers full-body conditioning. During a Pilates routine, every major muscle group is worked for muscle balance. This helps improve performance and reduces your risk of injury.

Is Easily Adaptable

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, Pilates can be adapted to your fitness level. As you progress, move on to more challenging exercises. The low-impact exercises are safe for people with arthritis or other joint conditions. If you have a health condition or haven’t exercised in years, be sure to get the okay from your physician before beginning a new workout program and then work with your trainer to figure out the best way to slide a little Pilates into your weekly regimen.

Types of Exercises

A Pilates workout includes elements of yoga, gymnastics, and physical therapy techniques as you work through a series of consecutive exercises. A few examples of potential exercises include the elephant, bridge roll-up, criss-cross, swimming, seal, leg circle, and the sliding lunge.