Pilates is one of my favorite exercise routines, and it can be done by children, adults, and even elderly individuals.
Seniors will benefit particularly from doing Pilates exercises as it greatly improves their balance and flexibility and allows them to focus their breathing in specific areas of the body to improve circulation and relaxation.
Because Pilates is such a gentle and low-intensity exercise, anyone can perform it at any age or stage of life. You can also modify the routines to suit your requirements and capabilities,
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What exactly is Pilates
Pilates is a very specific physical exercise system that a German anatomist devised, and his name was Joseph. The program was designed in the early 20th century. It uses specifically targeted exercises to improve your strength, flexibility, and posture by, in turn, focusing mainly on your core and increasing the strength of your body’s core.
Pilates only requires small movements and focuses on various body parts. However, Pilates is a type of exercise that needs to be performed regularly, even for short periods.
Benefits of Pilates for Seniors
Pilates holds many benefits for seniors and other age groups. It is safe and gentle, as well as easy for seniors to follow;
- Increased Balance and Stability. Because Pilates centers movements in the mid-section of the body, instead of just your extremities, such s the arms and legs, there are fewer chances of injury. Pilates develops in your mid-section and then gently works towards an end range to target other areas. Pilates teaches control and stability, which can greatly benefit senior adults.
- Great for Many Ailments – Pilates can help with various age-related ailments and conditions. Seniors with arthritis will enjoy the gentle mid-range movements that improve joint strength and mobility. Pilates can help improve bone density with simple leg and standing routines for osteoporosis. The routines are ideal for lumbar stenosis as they stretch your back muscles out and strengthen the extensor muscles of the spine to counteract the forces of gravity, which pull you into a hunched position. Pilates has also been proven to slow down diseases such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis in seniors. The movements help to overcome rigidity and allow you to become more limber.
- Helps Prevent Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is when the structure of your bones becomes weakened, making them more fragile and prone to breaking. Pilates is an excellent form of exercise to improve bone density. However, when you already have the condition, performing Pilates cautiously or avoiding this form of exercise is advised.
- Improves Your Posture, Stability, and Mobility – Your posture becomes more rounded as your age which can compress and change the shape of your spine, which may lead to impingement at the shoulder joints, which makes it difficult to lift your arms. Reaching up may become difficult, if possible. Pilates exercises that help with this issue by improving your posture and the mobility of the joints in your shoulders.
- Better Breathing and Circulation – Breathing becomes more difficult as we age, the breathing muscles weaken, and our rib cage stiffens. A lack of oxygen results, which can contribute to feeling dizzy and confused. The specific breathing technique used in Pilates routines helps t lengthen tight ribcages and strengthen the muscles responsible for breathing for a more efficient respiratory system.
- Better Balance – Falls are very common amongst older adults and one of the main causes of injury; many times, falls are because of a lack of balance in seniors. Seniors may lose their confidence when they can no longer walk or stand independently and keep a proper balance. Pilates helps to improve both your coordination and your balance.
- Improves Your Strength and Flexibility – As we age, muscular strength decreases drastically, and it has been said that by the age of 30 to 50, your muscular strength will decrease by 30%. Losing muscular strength affects your ability to walk, climb and perform other daily tasks, especially in seniors. It can cause early fatigue and can also increase your risk for diseases. Pilates can help to strengthen your muscles and keep them much more flexible.
Pilates Exercises for Seniors
Before starting any Pilates routine, consult a physician, especially if you have certain ailments or weaknesses. You may have to adapt movements and routines to suit your physical needs and capabilities.
You must Taylor your Pilates programs to reach your personal goals and physical capabilities.
Never exert yourself over your limit. Pilates routines should never cause pain. Pain indicates that something is wrong and that you should stop immediately.
Pilates exercises focus very much on your breathing, so always remember to use breathing methods throughout the entire routine. The routines need to be relaxing and comfortable.
Below are a few videos of basic Pilates routines. There are plenty of routines that you can follow on youtube for beginners and as you advance more.
The routines are easy to follow and comfortable, suited ideally for seniors, as you will see;
Floor Based Pilates
Floor Based Pilates requires that you have a soft Yoga mat or soft carpet to do them on. These are relaxed routines that improve strength and flexibility.
Standing Pilates is much easier, especially if you struggle to get up and down the floors. They are highly effective, and you do not require a special mat or soft surface to perform them on.
Seated Pilates allows you to enjoy these exercises in the comfort of a chair. Especially ideal for seniors that have issues with mobility in the legs.
Pilates is an excellent exercise for seniors to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility. Many routine areas are available, but it is important to start with the basics and gradually increase from there. You can modify some of the movements to suit your capabilities.