I was under a lot of life pressure the past few weeks and my body system was going down the drain reacting to the stress that I was undergoing until a friend of mine who lives in Bonn Germany suggested that I practice Pilates. It had never crossed my mind that Pilates could be such a soothing exercise. Since I had never practiced it before I decided to hit the net to check on the benefits and how I could practice it by myself in the comfort of my house.
According to some sources on the net; Pilates is a non-aerobic method of exercising that lengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups in the body in a balanced fashion. It requires concentration in finding a centre point to control the body through movement. Each exercise has a prescribed placement rhythm and breathing pattern.
Muscles are never worked to exhaustion, so there is no sweating or straining, just intense concentration. The workout consists of a variety of exercise sequences that are performed in low repetitions, usually 5–10 times, over a session of one and a quarter to one and a half hours. Mat work and specialized equipment for resistance is used.
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. Some of 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.
I can tell you that slowly I am reducing my age in half by trying my best to practice Pilates at least thrice a week – my level of stress has gone down by almost 60% hoping that it gets to almost zero! I am still not aware of any Pilates classes going on in Kigali, but if there is I would appreciate if I can get the contacts.