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Benefits of Pilates

FIT AND STRONG: Pilates focuses on body awareness and strong, mobile joints to promote a healthier way of life, whether that be during a Pilates session or during everyday activities

SO MANY people struggle to find the right balance when it comes to working out, eating correctly and generally staying in shape.

The thought of going to the gym can prove very daunting for some – unfamiliar equipment and everyone else looking like they know what they’re doing can be a big turn off. But the truth is, we all have to start somewhere.

Pilates is a great way to build up your strength and confidence through regular exercise, it is also a great way to improve mental health, so if you’ve dreamed of toned abs, ripped arms, sculpted legs and a calm mind – Pilates could well be the right exercise for you.

The Voice's Chantelle Kimberley takes a look at the benefits of Pilates, and how it could improve your lifestyle.

Improves flexibility

More traditional workouts are weight-bearing and tend to build strong, bulky muscles – but this is also the type most prone to injury. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body balanced with both strength and flexibility is less likely to become injured.

Increases muscle strength and tone

Pilates increases the strength of core muscles, which include your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips and buttocks. All of these remain contracted and engaged during a Pilates workout. This constant tension helps keep the core muscles lean and help to build better endurance and strength.

Improves breathing

Pilates not only improves breathing patterns during your workouts, but it also improves blood circulation in the body, thanks to careful attention to breathing patterns practiced throughout. Deep breathing means that blood is better able to deliver oxygen to the appropriate muscles and organs, which can cleanse the body of toxins, provide a fresh, invigorating feeling, and help muscles recover better.

Improves posture

Whatever you do on a daily basis, Pilates makes you more aware of your ability to pull your stomach in and pull your shoulders down for good posture and spinal alignment. Your attention and focus is required in doing the exercises smoothly – there is a noticeable difference in movement awareness, even beyond the class session.

Teaches mental and physical control

It is all about control – the muscles work to lift against gravity and the resistance of apparatus springs, thus control the movement of the body and the apparatus. This helps your body to be in control of external forces – not the other way round.

Promotes body awareness

Pilates makes you become more aware of your posture when you sit or stand, as well as everyday movements. This helps you become more aware of those habits, aches and pains and injuries you have or have had in the past, enabling you to alleviate or even prevent future aches and pains.

Reinforces strong, mobile joints

Pilates exercises helps you to develop a strong core. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles that are closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle. Building core strength will help bring balance to the front and back of your body.

Conditions the whole body

Pilates conditions the whole body, including the feet and ankles. Each muscle is trained accordingly. Your entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, helping with daily activities and sports which had previously been difficult, you will notice better performance and less chance of injury. You now find that many professional sports teams and athletes now use Pilates as a critical part of their training regimen.

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