Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates during the 1920s in Germany to strengthen abdominal core muscles and improve muscle control, flexibility and coordination to create a balance in the body.
The following is an excerpt taken from page 9 of Pilates for weight loss: the fast and effective way to shed weight and change your body shape for good by Lynne Robinson (R 613.7192 ROB).
"There are so many reasons why people begin Pilates: managing back problems, preventing injuries, greater flexibility, stress management or simply to shape up flabby buttocks and flatten stomachs.
Whatever the reasons for initially starting classes, I can guarantee that the reason people continue is because it makes them feel great. The health benefits include:
1. Improved posture and body use
Pain in joints and muscles is usually down to poor body use and posture. It is the tissues of the muscles and joints which suffer when we lack awareness of good posture and optimum body use.
2. Improved circulation, joint mobility and healing
Pilates works on the concept that the body has the potential to heal itself. Its movements work at a cellular level to channel the blood flow to all regions of the body, carrying nutrients and taking away toxins.
3. Improved bone density
As a strength-training method, Pilates can help to build up your bone bank. The stronger your muscles are, the greater the tug on the bones which in turn helps to stimulate bone growth.
4. Stress relief
An understanding of the movements in Pilates, deep breathing and release of tension, combine to bring a sense of calm and relaxation.
5. A better immune system
Studies have shown that regular exercise helps to boost the immune system. Joseph Pilates was proud that none of the regulars who attended his daily exercise class at the internment camp died from the terrible Spanish flu epidemic.
6. An enhanced sex life
Pilates can help your sex life by improving your body awareness, your self confidence and self esteem, your flexibility and last, but by no means least, it can help to strength the pelvic floor muscles.
7. Improved balance and co-ordination
As we age, these skills may make all the difference to our quality of life. Pilates can help to reduce your risk of falling and fracturing bones.
8. Anti-aging benefits
Pilates can help to give you a body that is both strong and supple, right through your later years, but it can also help to keep your skin supple too. Collagen gives your skin its elasticity but is slow to regenerate.
To help keep your skin's youthful elasticity, you need to do exercises which stretch it as this maximizes the production of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) which is responsible for protecting collagen. Two hours of stretching per week, combined with cardio activities are recommended.
This keeps your joints naturally lubricated, and new research shows that exercise actually changes the lubricating fluid so that it contains more of the chemicals that restore collagen."
Sharon Teng is a Reference Librarian at National Library Singapore.