5 Awesome Benefits of Pilates Mat Exercises
We’ve all had time to reflect on the importance of being physically and mentally healthy. Counting the days until the lockdown ends, we’ve resolved to take better care of ourselves. But let’s face it, it’s hard to commit to a fitness program when there’s no tangible result, right?
If you’re looking for a workout not just for the body but also the mind, then Pilates mat exercises are a good start. Aside from whipping you up into shape, Pilates teaches centering, concentration, and control—but how does knowing all that help you IRL? Read on to find out!
Mat Pilates is perfect for beginners because the reps can be adjusted to your physical capability. Plus, you’ll only need a mat, some floor space, and everyday items you can use as exercise aids.
It involves floor workouts that build body strength and activate the brain’s stress-busting functions. With Pilates’ emphasis on the body/mind connection, it’s easier to grasp how toning, flexibility, coordination, and focus come together to make life easier…and just happier!
So, let’s cut to the chase and tell you exactly how Pilates mat exercises can make you look great simply because you feel so good!
1. Burns Fat and Calories
Flabby abs, chubby arms and legs, bulky hips and backsides…these are why most of us are driven to exercise. Luckily for us, Pilates mat exercises target the body’s powerhouse—abdominal and lower back muscles, glutes, hips, and pelvic floor.
While strengthening the body’s core is the goal of Pilates mat exercises, you’ll most likely burn off calories and shed excess pounds in the process. But if you want to lose weight fast, then you might want to take up running, swimming, and other cardio workouts on top of Pilates.
Traditional Pilates was designed as a low-impact workout meant to build up strength gradually. Although, research shows it’s also effective in lowering BMI and calorie count, and results in a slimmer waist, flatter abs, and leaner hips too.
Picture this: if you weigh about 150lbs and you’re doing beginner Pilates mat classes for 50 minutes, then you’ll shed about 175 calories. Our muscles continue burning off calories even after working out so, the longer you’re at it, the stronger and shapelier you get.
2. Makes You Look Taller
We wear heels and elevator shoes to look taller because…why not? Doesn’t hurt to add a few centimeters to your height, right? In fact, Miss World 2003 Rosanna Davison credits Pilates for making her half-an-inch taller.
Well, Pilates can’t make you grow actually but, with all that stretching, your spine becomes more aligned, back muscles are elongated, and the cushioning between the vertebrae gets more room to breathe.
Pilates may not be able to lengthen your bones but it will correct your posture with consistent practice. These days it’s normal to spend long hours sitting at our desks or hunched over phones and tablets, which ruin our posture and make us look shorter.
As you move from beginner to master class, you’ll notice that you’re standing straighter and looking leaner. And with no help from stilettos or height-adding insoles, too!
3. Gets Rid of Stiffness
Getting up from bed, bending to put on shoes, reaching for stuff, walking…just about everything we do requires flexibility. Like breathing, you don’t think of doing it, it just happens!
Then as you’re getting more of the occasional crick in the neck, backache, or stiffness in the joints, that’s when it hits home: flexibility is crucial to living a normal life. We can’t move well if we’re not flexible, and we can’t live normally if we can’t move.
That’s how Joseph saw it when he created Pilates to help injured soldiers. Pilates guides the body to move with ease and grace. It’s meant to get us to a state of balance and natural flow.
Sadly, our body’s flexibility decreases as we get older and everyday stuff like bending, stretching, or reaching won’t feel as effortless. You can prevent this with Pilates mat exercises, and making stretching part of your daily routine.
4. Helps Strengthen Immunity
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the coronavirus outbreak, it’s that a strong immune system could spell the difference between life and death. We know now that the virus attacks the lungs, that’s why it’s so important to keep them healthy and resilient.
Aside from not smoking and not exposing yourself to pollution, there are other things you can do to make your lungs stronger, like Pilates. But how?
First, the exercises correct posture, so the diaphragm can contract and relax the way it should. Second, Pilates teaches breathing techniques that get oxygen circulating, so our body can function better and heal faster.
Remember, the diaphragm is a muscle, and it’s just as important to work it out like you would your biceps. We’re not supposed to take shallow breaths, we just get used to it, which means our lungs aren’t operating at 100%.
Pilates teaches us to breathe properly and, in the process, become more aware of how our body works, and more responsive to the health alerts it’s sending.
5. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
We get the most tension in the neck, shoulders, chest, and hips. When we’re stressed, this tension goes from discomfort to pain, which makes us even more stressed. To break the cycle, we should learn to move and think properly—and that’s the Pilates philosophy.
At mat class, you’re taught how to tune in to your body and react positively to your thoughts. Pilates trains you to concentrate on what’s happening in the moment rather than what could go wrong. And that’s what mindfulness is all about.
Think about it: you’re less likely to get sick if you’re doing strength-building Pilates mat exercises regularly. The more you train, the better you get at your daily tasks.
And as Pilates gets to be a regular practice, mind-body balance will come naturally to you—and that’s crucial in living life to the fullest.
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