Have you heard of Pilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez)? It is a method of exercise named after its inventor, Joseph Pilates. The Pilates method can be a safe, effective way to stretch, strengthen, and streamline your body.
Pilates mostly involves strength and flexibility, with a little balance thrown in. A complete workout regimen must include strength, flexibility, balance, AND cardiovascular exercise. That means that, if you add Pilates to your workout, you should also be doing something like walking, biking, running, jogging, swimming, or some other activity that gets your heart rate up. Cardio is the big-time calorie burner, and you’re not going to lose a lot of weight if you leave that out. You’re also not going to lose much weight if you neglect to eat well and in moderation.
In addition to helping you lose weight, Pilates has advantages that will make a bigger impact on your life than helping you lose weight. These advantages include:
- A stronger core (the midsection of your body). This is perhaps the most touted benefit of Pilates.
- Development of lean muscle mass. Pilates helps you develop lean, strong muscles. If you want to bulk up, try something else, but if you’re looking for a sleek, functional body, look no further!
- Greater flexibility. Pilates is a great mixture of stretches and strengthening exercises.
- Better posture. Pilates does wonders for your posture. And good posture does more than just look good—it helps you feel better, too!
- Reduced pain in shoulders and back. This is related to the better posture Pilates gives you; with better alignment, you are less likely to go into bad positions that lead to pain, especially in your shoulders and lower back.
- Reduced risk of injury. By strengthening your muscles and gaining greater awareness of your body, you are less likely to pull something or get bent out of shape doing something routine like getting out of your car.
- Peace of mind. Doing Pilates requires intense concentration, so you won’t have the chance to stew over things you’re worried about!
- Less stress. Taking time to focus on breath, alignment, and something other than the daily grind can help you lead a less stressful life
- Better balance. Pilates helps with both balance and coordination, especially if you work with foam rollers and stability balls
Your tummy and pelvic floor muscles are put under increasing strain as your baby grows bigger. Your tummy muscles are stretched over your growing baby, and, if they’re weak, you may develop back or pelvic pain. Your weakened pelvic floor muscles may become less supportive to your bowel, bladder, and uterus (womb) and move lower down into your pelvis under your baby’s weight. As a result, you may find it harder to squeeze and hold these muscles. Because of this, you may leak small amounts of urine when you cough or sneeze or feel a sensation of heaviness down below. Pilates targets the tummy, back, and pelvic floor muscles without straining other joints, so the exercises can work well for you during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you may find that you feel a little clumsy or that your balance isn’t as good as usual. This is thought to be due to changes in your balance and posture (Pruett & Caputo 2011). Pilates has been shown to help improve balance (Johnson et al 2007) so you may find that you feel less clumsy if you carry out the exercises. It may also help you walk without swaying from side to side so much as your baby bump grows.
Remember to seek medical advice before starting a new exercise regimen.
Trainer Tip by Christina Perez.