Discover The Benefits Of Pilates: Strength, Flexibility, Balance & More
Pilates may be of lower intensity and more controlled than other types of exercise but don’t underestimate the positive effect that this whole body workout can have on your fitness and mood.
Whether you choose Pilates as your main training program or do the occasional class to complement and support your existing training, you’ll reap a long list of benefits, including increased core strength, improved posture and flexibility, and better balance.
Pilates is also a quiet workout that requires minimal equipment and can be done easily and effectively in small spaces.
What is Pilates?
Founded by German-born Joseph Pilates in 1926, Pilates is a low-impact workout that focuses on stretching, strengthening, breathwork, and properly aligning the body through slow and controlled movements that target core strength, flexibility and alignment.
Pilates practitioners tend to perform a series of approximately 25-50 simple, repetitive, exercises with an emphasis on muscular exertion in the abdominals, lower back, hips, thighs and glutes.
The benefits of Pilates
Pilates emphasises proper breathing, prioritises correct alignment and concentrates on smooth, flowing movements, helping you increase your mind and body connection.
Pilates strengthens your whole body
A typical Pilates workout will activate the abs, obliques and other core muscles that support your spine. Over time, this activation will strengthen the muscles in your back, core and hips, and lead to a stronger, more supple spine, and better pelvis and hip alignment.
In fact, a 2015 study by the University of Padova, Italy, and published in the Age journal, assessed the effectiveness of 12-week Pilates exercise on muscular strength on a group of post-menopausal women, confirmed that Pilates increased abdominal, upper, and lower body muscle strength.
The benefits don’t stop there. A strong spine and core helps to decrease the risk of injury, maintain better posture and allows you to achieve better Pilates technique. The stronger your core, the easier it is for your body to locate, activate and train the right muscles so that other muscles don’t end up over-compensating.
Pilates increases flexibility
Struggle to touch your toes? Pilates improves the flexibility of your muscles and the mobility of your joints. This is because the exercises within Pilates are essentially a series of dynamic stretches that work wonders to lengthen your muscles.
As your flexibility improves, you may also find you’re able to reach further and jump higher in your other workouts. A benefit of flexibility is an increased range of motion around the joints, and muscles that are well-stretched can more easily reach a full range of motion.
Pilates improves balance
Having good balance means you can control your body’s position whether you’re moving slowly or quickly. Better balance stems from better control of movement, which comes from having a strong core and flexible muscles – two things that a regular Pilates routine will absolutely help you build.
A 2007 study by Loma Linda University in the US, and published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found that adults who’d completed 10 Pilates-based exercise sessions showed a significant change in dynamic balance while doing a functional reach test.
Pilates improves posture
Pilates promotes good posture by helping to realign the body and spine. Sitting and standing with proper alignment not only helps keep your spine strong and healthy but also plays a big part in improving blood flow and supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons.
A 2016 study by Pusan National University in the Republic of Korea, published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, found that Pilates not only improves posture by enhancing body awareness but that it can also be a successful treatment of specific postural misalignments.
Pilates may help improve existing back pain
Core weakness has been increasingly recognised as a biomechanical deficit in people suffering from lower back pain – a 2016 review by I-Shou University, Taiwan, and published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science on the effects of Pilates on patients with chronic non-specific low back pain found that Pilates showed significant improvement in pain relief and functional enhancement.
Pilates may improve your mood
It’s a well-known fact that exercise benefits our mental health, and Pilates is no exception. Focusing on your breathing has been shown to reduce stress, boost endorphins (the happy hormone), and, over time, increase lung capacity. This means your body is able to get more oxygen to your brain, helping you feel more awake, alert and ready to go.
Pilates can help you get the most out of your other workouts
Whether you combine Pilates with other low-impact workouts like yoga and swimming or do it alongside high impact exercises like HIIT and cardio, you’ll find that a regular Pilates routine will help you move closer to your overall fitness goals. This is because the benefits of Pilates – increased strength, improved posture, greater flexibility – all ladder up to better whole-body strength, helping you to squat deeper, reach further and jump higher.
Pilates can help build your resilience to injury
Doing Pilates in combination with other forms of exercise can help build your resilience to injury, and can be used early in rehabilitation from injury. Dancers, for example, use Pilates as a form of cross-training to help isolate, activate and strengthen muscles, which helps to reduce the risk of injury from any muscular imbalances.
If the majority of your workouts tend to be high impact, like HIIT, cardio and strength-based, you might want to consider using Pilates as a recovery day workout.
Pilates promotes a better range of motion
Pilates also helps to create a greater range of motion. This can be especially beneficial to those who run, swim or dance, as a higher range of motion in the hip joints can improve stride length and technique.
Pilates is suitable for everyone
No matter your age or fitness level, Pilates can be modified to suit everyone – even if you’ve just started working out.
Ready to reap the benefits of Pilates?
Whether you’re a Pilates beginner or looking for a challenge, Pilates with Sara Colquhoun is designed for you. The 16-week program combines traditional and contemporary Pilates with elements of functional movement training to increase flexibility, core strength and improve full-body muscle definition.
The weekly workout schedule features two resistance classes (choose from either Strength & Conditioning to improve controlled movement or High-Intensity Interval Pilates (HIIP) to get your heart rate up), recovery sessions to promote blood flow to your muscles through gentle stretches, and Express resistance classes with upper-body, lower-body and full-body workout options.
Suitable for any fitness level, you can do Pilates with Sara as your main training program on Sweat, or switch it up and choose on-demand classes to complement your other training.
The benefits of Pilates extends into every area of your life
If there’s one thing that you’ll hear about Pilates over and over again, it’s that it really works your core. Every movement, whether it’s squatting or sprinting, requires the use of your core muscles. When your core is switched on, your body becomes strong and stable, and this stability is vital for safe and effective workouts.
If you want to increase your core strength and stability, and improve muscle definition without using heavy weights, Pilates could be a great option for you.
If you’re new to Sweat, download the Sweat app from the App Store or Google Play. You can also sign up via our website to get started.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.