In 2017, more than 9 million people in the US took part in Pilates.
If you've never tried Pilates, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Why would so many people want to contort themselves into strange positions on the floor?
The reason that Pilates is so popular is that it offers a wide range of health benefits. And yet it is still accessible for a wide range of fitness levels.
So read on as we take a look at some of the top benefits of Pilates.
1. Increases Flexibility
If you can't touch your toes then your body is not as flexible as it should be.
Over time, doing Pilates helps to stretch and lengthen your muscles. It also increases the range of motion in your joints. The overall result is that your body becomes more flexible.
The creator of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, stated that "true flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed." His designed his system to achieve just that.
2. Great for Core Strength
If you've ever tried doing the plank exercise and collapsed in a matter of seconds, then your core strength definitely needs improving.
And Pilates is a great way to do so. Strong core muscles are what we need for good posture and a strong back. When we have a strong core, the rest of our muscles don't have to overwork to compensate.
Another upside of increasing your core strength is that it is a step on the road to those rock hard abs you've always dreamed of.
3. Boosts Your Mental Health
Pilates doesn't just do wonders for your physical health.
It also teaches you to focus, and concentrate on the feelings within your own body. And these are the key parts of mindfulness and meditation techniques which have been shown to be of real benefit to your mental health.
You bring your full attention to each exercise, concentrating on your breathing and the sensations in your body. All of which will help to relieve stress and tension too.
4. Builds Strength Without Bulging Muscles
If you've always wanted to be stronger without looking like a bodybuilder, then Pilates is a great option.
The exercises help you to build toned muscles that work for your entire body. It uses a technique known as eccentric contraction, which helps you to grow longer and stronger muscles without bulking up. And since you are exercising your entire body, you're not left with a big torso and chicken legs.
5. Encourages Better Posture
When all of your muscles are being developed equally, it will help to improve your posture.
A strong core is key to having good posture. And as you practice the focus on your body that is a big part of Pilates, you will become more aware of your own body outside of the classes. You will be able to notice when your posture is not ideal, and correct it.
Take a look at anyone that has done Pilates for a while, and you should notice that they have excellent posture.
6. Promotes Weight Loss
Although Pilates isn't a hard cardio workout, it can still help with weight loss.
As your body builds more lean muscle, your body will naturally burn through more calories providing energy to those muscles. And as your posture improves, you will be doing more work in using those muscles to maintain that posture.
Whilst it won't help you shed hundreds of pounds, doing Pilates regularly can have a noticeable impact on your weight.
7. Can Help Ease Back Pain
Back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, with estimates that many as 80% of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives.
And whilst it is not guaranteed to be successful, taking part in Pilates has been shown to be effective in reducing back pain in some people. Back pain is often caused by the back muscles being overworked due to poor posture or weaker muscles elsewhere in the body. Pilates can help to reduce this imbalance and take the pressure off your back.
8. Improves Sports Performance
For many sports people, injuries occur due to the overuse of specific muscles.
For example, a baseball pitcher will use the muscles in their throwing arm much more than in their other arm. This imbalance increases the risk of injury as well as impacting performance.
But Pilates can help to reduce some of that imbalance, with every part of the body getting trained equally.
9. Helps to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
One of the areas of the body that Pilates can help to strengthen is your pelvic floor.
And this has a whole host of benefits. Doctors recommend strengthening your pelvic floor as a way for women to reduce the risk of incontinence after childbirth. And it has also been shown to increase sensitivity during sex and provide women with stronger orgasms.
For men, strengthening these muscles has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
10. Improves Aerobic Capacity
A core component of Pilates is breathing.
Not only does this help you focus and allow you to fully oxygenate your muscles as you take part, but over time it can also help you to improve your lung capacity. This is ideal if you're a singer or play a wind instrument, as well as helping to increase stamina for sports.
Improved aerobic capacity can also help to improve your circulation, and deep breathing exercises reduce stress levels too.
Are These Benefits of Pilates Exactly What You're Looking For?
If these benefits of pilates are exactly what you need in your life, then we're here to help.
We have a wide range of articles covering all aspects of women's fitness, health, and weight loss. We even have a selection of great healthy living recipes for you to try.
If you're looking for tips and advice on how to live a healthy lifestyle, then please feel free to take a good look around.