Scientifically Proven Benefits of Pilates
Pilates is more than a form of exercise. Anyone who has practiced Pilates for at least a couple of months knows that it not only sculpts the body, but also clears the mind and provides energy and inner serenity. However, what makes Pilates so unique?
However, the most wonderful aspect occurs when students begin to notice changes not only in their bodies but also in their thoughts, emotions, and lives as a whole.
The modern world is filled with distractions, stress, and disorder. Each of us is seeking a personal condition of tranquility and calm that will enable us to make sense of all that is happening in our lives. When we seek inner balance, we frequently consider popular self-improvement practices such as meditation, simplifying, and affirmations, but we rarely consider any type of exercise as a realistic tool to assist us in achieving that balance.
1. Pilates strengthens your memory and increases your intelligence.
By our late twenties, the majority of us have lost approximately 1% of the volume of our hippocampus, a region of the brain crucial for memory and cognitive function. Our brains are diminishing in size.
For a long period of time, scientists believed that humans were born with a fixed amount of brain cells, but they just found that our brains can generate new cells, thereby delaying or reversing brain shrinkage. What does this imply to you personally? This translates to improved memory, decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, improved learning and problem solving, and a higher IQ, among other benefits.
Numerous recent studies have demonstrated that exercise enhances neurogenesis – the formation of new brain cells – as well as protects existing brain cells by increasing B.D.N.F. production – a nerve-protecting substance dubbed “Miracle-Gro” for the brain by some experts. The most visible alterations occur in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Another group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health that when people engage in mindful movement practices such as Pilates or Yoga, their brain function is significantly improved compared to when they engage in aerobic exercise.
2. Pilates exercises the brain.
Introducing new tasks is a method of brain training. Heidi Johansen Berg and her colleagues at the University of Oxford discovered that expanding one’s range of activities boosts the brain’s white matter density (the fibers that let neurons communicate.) If neurons are created but do not connect, they eventually die without benefiting brain health, which is why this white matter is critical.
Acquiring new skills is an important factor of brain fitness. However, the majority of us do not have many extra hours each week to learn to juggle (like Heidi Johansen Berg did in her studies) or take up a new pastime.
However, a fitness routine can be the ideal approach to multitask – benefiting both our body and mind at the same time. When you begin to automate your workout (such as running on a treadmill while watching TV, performing reps at the gym without focusing on your technique, or flying through the same Yoga routine each week), you effectively halve the benefit of your workout (not even mentioning that you double the risk of an injury.)
According to Pilates instructor and researcher Anne Bishop, learning a new movement or modifying a Pilates program achieves the desired effect by simultaneously pushing the body and mind.
3. Increased muscular activity results in improved nervous system function.
Each time we move, multiple distinct parts of our brain are activated. The brain then transmits an impulse to muscle fibers via the spinal cord (the process is more complicated than that and involves a slew of terminology that my spell checker is unfamiliar with.)
When you learn to engage specific muscles voluntarily (like with deep core activation in Pilates), you reactivate a movement chain that may have been dormant for a lengthy period of time. Did you know your core is made up of 29 muscles and not just six? Acquiring the ability to use them is a purifying rinse for the neurological system.
A healthy neurological system results in improved communication between the brain and the rest of the body, as well as the release of stress- and mood-regulating chemicals.
4. Pilates helps to calm the mind and emotions.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the mind-body advantages of mindfulness meditation. To summarize, meditation entails the following:
- alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression,
- assists in the treatment of insomnia
- sharpens the intellect,
- reveals creativity,
- alleviates tension,
- aids in the management of chronic pain,
- diminishes unpleasant emotions
- aids in the fight against addiction and instills constructive behaviors,
- Blood pressure is lowered and cardiovascular health is improved.
When the majority of us consider meditation, we envision a Buddhist monk or a New Age practitioner chanting in silence. However, we may be mistaken if we believe that mindfulness can be integrated into our lives in only one way.
According to Ellen Langer, a pioneer in the field of mindfulness research,
Though the notion originated in ancient Buddhist, Hindu, and Chinese traditions, mindfulness is more about concentration in experimental psychology than spirituality: the ability to quiet your mind, focus your attention on the current moment, and ignore any distractions that come your way.
Pilates enables you to focus only on one thing — your body. Whether you like it or not, you must rid your mind of all distractions when completing Pilates coordination work on the Reformer or simply imagining an inner spring in your core as your instructor describes.
Pilates enables you to receive the advantages of meditation without having to sit still or feel as though you’re wasting your time.
You can only profit from mindfulness if you are comfortable with your actions. While some people prefer the serenity of traditional meditation, others benefit from mindful activity that cleanses the mind while exercising the body.
5. Pilates helps to alleviate stress and tension in our bodies.
You’ve almost certainly heard of the well-known “fight-or-flight” response to stressful situations. When confronted with a stressful scenario (whether genuine, such as nearly being involved in a vehicle accident, or imagined, such as fear of public speaking), our bodies unleash a flood of stress hormones to prepare us to fight or flee.
When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies are primed to function at their best, yet in the majority of modern-day scenarios, we are unable to avoid a traffic congestion or have a fight with our boss. Physical activity is supposed to help metabolize the stress hormone building, but instead, we try to keep everything inside and work our way through it.
As a result? Our bodies accumulate stress chemicals, resulting in hypertension, muscular spasms, and pain.
Through gentle stretching and gradual training, Pilates alleviates muscle tightness. A strong Jumpboard workout will enable you to digest stress hormones that have accumulated in your muscles. Additionally, the fascial release techniques that many Pilates instructors now incorporate into their lessons will assist you in loosening stiff muscles that are resistant to passive stretching. When you eliminate stress from your body, you also eliminate it from your mind.
If you’re in the Costa, Mesa area and interested in doing Pilates, come join us at our Pilates studio!