Pilates helps the mind to focus as it connects with the body to bring better awareness.
Pilates exercises helps to correct muscle imbalances and can greatly improve the quality of life for especially the older or mature population.
Pilates exercises can be taught in different levels to ensure that everyone benefit. Through empathetic and supportive instruction and guidance, older clients can achieve goals which in itself will improve their self confidence and bring a sense of wellbeing.
Proprioceptors are stimulated through Pilates exercises and that brings better balance and stability, proper gait cycle and good posture. As strength and flexibility increases with regular Pilates sessions, the risk of an injury or fall lowers dramatically. It becomes possible for the older person to complete the activities of daily living and enjoy a sense of well-being.
Other benefits include improved bone density and muscle strength, healthy cardiovascular system, healthier blood cholesterol through oxygen in the heart muscle, reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, better breathing as a kyphotic posture improves.
What happens with Age?
Loss of muscle mass
As a loss of muscle mass occurs with age (known as sarcopenia), people are less active and become weaker. If the older person don’t stay active, the loss of muscle mass and strength occurs faster than it does during youth and middle age, which could then increase the risk of osteoporosis and falls.
Flexibility is affected by the cartilage surrounding joints calcifying, which leads to a decrease in the range of motion at the joint. People then tend to be less active because of the loss of flexibility and muscle strength which could lead to a higher fat percentage.
Bone strength decrease
Osteoporosis can increase the risk of fractures from falls. As bone mineral density decreases, disorders like spondylosis and postural problems occur. Bone density is influenced by genetic factors but can also be affected by environmental factors and medications. According to www.medicinenet.com, bone density accumulates during childhood and reaches a peak by the age of 25. While bone density is then maintained for about 10 years, it starts decreasing again after age 35. Both men and women will normally lose 0.3%-0.5% of their bone density per year as part of the ageing process.
In the opinion of Joseph Pilates
Joseph Pilates believed that the proper carriage of the spine is the only natural way to prevent abdominal obesity, shortness of breath, asthma, high and low blood pressure and various forms of heart disease.
The first lesson he would teach was that of correct breathing. If we could be taught as children to take long, deep breaths, sufficient to expand the chest to capacity, drawing the abdomen in and out and fully deflate the lungs with exhalation, there would be a good foundation for breathing later in life too.
A sound mind would compliment a sound body but if only half is achieved, the perfect harmony (balance as he called it), would be disturbed. “The mind and body need to be coordinated in order to accomplish the minimum expenditure of mental and physical energy, but also to live as long as possible in normal health and enjoy the benefits of a useful and happy life.”
Joseph Pilates believed that the mistreated body will eventually decrease in health – he used business men as example – that they would learn that happiness depends on normal health and not on social position or wealth.
How does Pilates fit in?
As osteoporosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s, hypertension and other disabling illnesses develop in the ageing body, there is great hope with Pilates as it offers a healthy way of movement to everybody. Exercises can be modified to accommodate the specific body, thereby slightly altering the choreography of the exercise to meet certain goals.
At times a client might feel the journey to a better posture is too long. Or a person with an auto-immune disorder like Multiple Sclerosis or Lupus might feel too tired on some days. The key lies in continuing regular exercise, lightening the load if necessary but persisting with focus and determination. Joseph Pilates said:
“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”
It is therefore clear that Pilates is a great way of improving strength, breathing, posture, a sound mind and physical fitness even though the body goes through an ageing process.