Pilates Exercise: Benefits for Your Health

Pilates (pronounced puh-LAH-teez) is something like a cross between yoga, stretching and calisthenics. Pilates had been the best kept secret of the stars for years. Pilates helps movie stars maintain optimum shape. Dancers used Pilates as a matter of course to stay fit or as rehabilitation.

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Joseph H. Pilates served as a nurse during World War I and while working in England he developed a series of exercises to help bed-bound patients regain their strength. Joseph attached springs to the mattresses of bed-bound patients and designed exercises in which the patients would either push or pull against the springs to create resistance. While utilizing spring resistance, the patients were able to move in a controlled and safe fashion. This allowed the muscles to work in such a manner that they were toned and lengthened at the same time. Even Joseph's earliest method was based on the quality of the movement and not the quantity. In 1926, Joseph Pilates moved to New York City and introduced his method of conditioning to the United States. Dancers and athletes caught on immediately as they quickly developed an appreciation for the Pilates method.

Pilates dramatically transforms the way your body looks, feels and performs. It builds strength without excess bulk, creating a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen.

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Pilates integrates body and mind. In Pilates it is more important to execute a few repetitions of an exercise correctly versus numerous, mindless repetitions. What does Pilates do:

  • Active ImageEnhances body alignment
  • Strengthens the abs, back and stabilizer muscles
  • Stretches, strengthens and relaxes your body
  • When modified, is gentle enough for pregnant women, yet challenging enough for advanced exercisers.
  • Incorporates exercises that target your abs, back and legs, making your body strong and flexible.

One interpretation of Pilates Principles: Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision, Breathing, and Flowing Movement, is similar to yoga .

Practiced faithfully, Pilates yields numerous benefits. Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep, healthy breathing is a primary focus. Strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coordination-both muscular and mental, are key components in an effective Pilates program. Posture, balance, and core strength are all heartily increased. Bone density and joint health improve, and many experience positive body awareness for the first time. Pilates teaches balance and control of the body, and that capacity spills over into other areas of one's life.

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