Yoga may be the low intensity activity du jour, HIIT may be the class that gets your heart racing and half marathons may be the achievement which gets you motivated, but pilates is a workout you shouldn’t overlook.
Compared to yoga, which has enjoyed a significant boom in popularity in recent years, pilates is a fitness option which doesn’t get much attention. Less “Instagrammable” than mountain poses and lotus positions, pilates is often seen as yoga’s “less sexy cousin”, but the practice is a very different approach to your body, which comes with a whole host of other health and fitness benefits.
Whether you suffer from back pain or anxiety, pilates incorporates balances and poses, designed to help strengthen, align and tone both your body and mind. Posture awareness, balance, core strength and breath are all central to pilates – and the practice is beneficial for bodies of any age.
Here are four more reasons to take the plunge with pilates…
1. It’s brilliant for backache
Bad backs are one of the biggest health problems in the UK. From mild discomfort, to chronic conditions, our daily lives can take a serious toll on our backs, causing more than 31 million working days to be lost in the UK each year. Pilates is regularly rated as one of the best techniques for relieving or improving back pain, particularly pain which affects the lower back (very common amongst heavy desk and computer users).
2. It can help improve your mental health
Pilates is great for your body and your mind (which both deserve lots of care and attention). Practicing pilates means really concentrating on your body, on maintaining poses, on holding balances. In short, pilates calls for lots of focus which can help block out intrusive or stress-inducing thoughts. Fantastic for reducing anxiety and stress, pilates’ focus on breathing and connecting with your body can be hugely beneficial for your mental health.
3. It will give you a cracking core
A strong core is linked to a range of bodily benefits, including reduced back pain, better balance, fewer sports injuries and improved fitness across the board. A flat tummy (and even a ripped six pack!) also come with a strengthened core – which is itself a core aim of pilates.
4. It offers a lifetime of benefits
From supporting women’s bodies pre- and post-pregnancy, to easing menopausal symptoms, providing a low-impact way to exercise with osteoporosis and improving your strength and balance well into old age, pilates is a practice which will help you stay healthy throughout your life.
Have you tried pilates before? How did you find this often-overlooked form of fitness? What benefits did you gain from the practice? Have your say below.