Pilates is a popular physical fitness routine, designed to provide conditioning to the whole body and improve its strength and flexibility. Over the years, many proponents of Pilates have claimed that this routine provides a host of benefits for the body, such as improvement in muscle coordination, prevention of injuries, and an increase in strength. Knowing more about Pilates exercises will help you decide if this is a good fitness routine for you.
Joseph Pilates created and designed the original Pilates exercises in the early part of the 20th century. Back then, they were designed to provide rehabilitation for German veterans who were returning home from World War I.
The central principles behind Pilates exercises are concentration, control, centering, precision, breathing, and flow. These six principles guide the development of all Pilates exercises, which have a wide range of challenging levels.
A 2006 study conducted by the Parkinson Center of the Oregon Health and Science University found that the concentration required in Pilates exercises provides relief from the degenerative symptoms that are associated with Parkinson’s Disease.
Pilates Exercises – Three Workouts To Choose From
In order to experience the full benefit of Pilates exercises, try any one of the following three workouts:
This is a classic Pilates exercise that has been designed to strengthen your core abdominal muscles, arms, and respiratory muscles.
- Begin by lying flat on a mat, with your hands parallel to your body.
- Engage in quick breathing through your mouth and nose.
- While breathing, bring your legs straight up and bend them at a 45 degree angle.
- Gently lift your head and neck off the mat to immediately engage your abdominal muscles.
- Then look toward your abdomen and move your arms in an up and down motion, while breathing out at the same time.
- Return to the original position and repeat the exercise. Each time, hold the exercise position for 10 breaths, which is equivalent to a 100 beats (the reason why this exercise is called The Hundred).
According to a study conducted at Queens University in Ontario, Canada, to assess the therapeutic effects of Pilates, individuals with functional disabilities and pain experienced much relief after undergoing Pilates training.
The use of Pilates for physical therapy purposes has gained widespread popularity among those who practice modern Pilates exercises.
The Roll Up
This exercise is great for strengthening your core abdominal muscles.
- Start by sitting on the floor, with your legs up and together, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
- Now grab the backs of your thighs above your knees and slowly bring your spine toward your them.
- Then, while inhaling through your mouth, scoop in your belly, as you slowly roll back toward the mat. Do this slowly, in a controlled movement.
- As you return your spine to your knees, you can exhale.
The One Leg Circle
This is a great exercise for building core strength and for toning and stretching your thighs.
- Start by lying flat on the floor, with your arms and legs extended outward.
- Begin engaging your breath and pulling your abs inwards, as you extend one leg straight up. Do not lift your hips or pelvis. Keep your hamstring slightly bent.
- Then inhale and take the extended leg across and over to the opposite hip. Now exhale and drop this leg a few inches while doing so.
- In a controlled manner, lift this leg outward and create small circular motions, while keeping your shoulders and pelvis at the same level. Then return to your original position and repeat these steps with the other leg.
Pilates exercises are a great way of developing strength and flexibility. Following a regular Pilates exercise routine can give you a toned body and a centered mind. Even Hollywood celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon swear by the effectiveness of this fitness routine.