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Health and Wellness: Understanding Pilates and Its Benefits

By definition, Pilates exercise is consisting of low-impact muscular strength, endurance movements and flexibility, emphasizing in aligning the spine, strengthening the core and balance of the muscles. Pilates are combination of different movements and exercises focusing in body core strengthening and stabilization, promoting muscle endurance and control, increasing the body’s flexibility and overall strength. The primary objective of Pilates is promoting total body conditioning, improving not just the physical body but also the mind and emotions including correcting alignment, concentration, centering, precision, control, breathing and flowing movement.

The core area of the body is the between your shoulders and your pelvis excluding the arms and legs, and it includes all muscles comprising it. Transverse abdominal muscle, pelvic floor and multifidus muscles are considered essential intrinsic core muscles, which are tone and strengthened by Pilates movements. Pilates exercises are beneficial for regaining strength from our daily activities as the movements are geared towards proper posturing, prevention of muscle bulking and shortening, and strengthening the core alleviate and prevent neck, back and joint pains. Pilates has a many benefits such as overall slimming, increased mobility, improved stance and posture, feeling of inner strength, relieving stress and relaxing your mind.

Pilates is not a type of exercise that will leave you tired after, instead you will feel more energized, having a positive mindset, feeling stronger and in control as you have just faced a challenging workout. Pilates uses warm-up toning, flattening the belly, and working on the arms to promote circulation. The first phase of Pilates is called “hundreds”, wherein you need to lie on your back, lifting your legs in a seventy-five degree angle, lifting the head and shoulders with your arms in your sides, and palms facing down, while pumping up and down and a series of inhalation and exhalation five counts each until you reach one hundred breaths. Roll-up, single-leg circles, single-leg stretch, sine stretch, mermaid side bend, side kick and crisscross are the movements involving Pilates.

Similar to sit-ups, roll-ups start when you lie on the mat with your hands overhead and then slowly rolling up to sit-up. In doing the single-leg stretch, you need to lie on your back, lifting your head and shoulders off the floor, and then extending your right leg into the air at a forty-five degree angle, inhaling and hugging your left knee into your chest, and vice-versa for ten repetitions. To lengthen your back and hamstrings, spine stretching can be done in a seated position, wherein the legs are spread hip-width, with the feet flexed apart, stretching your arms in front, while exhaling and lowering the head between the arms, then finally inhaling and starting all over.

Pilates has many benefits not just physically but also mentally, socially and spiritually.

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