Health

Pilates: The anti-ageing exercise solution

Selena Deleon

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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PILATES is a system of exercises that offers both resistance in safe ranges and stretching. This serves to do two things: Stabilise joints in the optimal position and lengthen the muscles so that the joint can have a greater range of motion.

As we age, avoiding injuries becomes critical because everyone knows that recovery is far more difficult at an advanced age. The Pilates practice develops control of movement, balance, confidence, and the ability to move with greater fluidity. Something simple such as putting on shoes takes on a new meaning once you feel the difference in the ageing joints after practising Pilates for as little as four weeks.

There are a myriad of benefits that Pilates offers to our ageing bodies such as balance, coordination, increased bone density, and joint health. But by far, postural alignment is the number one benefit. As we grow older, our posture begins to take on a new level of importance.

Of all of the benefits that Pilates can offer to your body relative to ageing, posture and alignment are the ones to invest in. The organisation of our head, neck and shoulders has an effect on the amount of air that you can physically allow into the lungs, because it optimises the mechanics of the flow of air as well as blood flow into the head for optimal circulation and the greatest possible oxygen upload into the brain.

The amount of oxygen that feeds the brain is directly related to the rate of deterioration of our senses, causing us to lose our eyesight, hearing, sense of taste, and memory sooner than we need to. Poor posture also accounts for poor digestion, impaired metabolic processes, imbalanced muscle development and movement. Put it all together and you can appreciate that ageing without Pilates is a bad idea.

If you knew that you could slow down the negative processes of deterioration of the ageing body, then why wouldn't you try Pilates and choose to exercise smarter?

Some of the goals and benefits of Pilates on the ageing body include:

• Co-ordination

• Strength

• Mobility

• Efficient movement

• Mental and spiritual rejuvenation

• Self-awareness

• Balance and self-confidence

• Restoration of natural movement

• Sense of well-being

• Enhanced quality of life.

A fundamental practice in the Pilates programme centres around breathing techniques. Mastering breathing can offer a wide range of positive benefits, such as increased oxygen capacity and cleaning germs out of the lungs, creating the effect of an “internal shower”.

The mental benefit of placing focus on the breathing has a relaxing effect on the muscles and a calming effect on the mind.

Strengthening of the diaphragmatic muscles and muscles of the pelvic floor improves incontinence, which is very common in the ageing population.

In short, Pilates is the simple answer to the fountain of youth and everybody could use it. But more than having the tangible end result of a Pilates body, it is the confidence of a sure foot and the composure to climb down a staircase that serves for daily living that is worth living.

To live with peace of mind and vigour is a gift that you give to yourself every day with a Pilates practice. Move your body smarter and optimise your quality of life for better years.

Selena DeLeon has been a personal and group fitness trainer for 16 years. She recently transitioned into the world of Pilates and has a studio in Kingston called Core Fitness, where she helps people to move and live better.

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