Pleasure is not normally a word that we associate with exercise. When I started my Pilates class a few weeks ago, I came away smiling after an hour of gentle and mindful stretching to soft music. I had a sense that, for me personally, I had found a workout regime that was right for my body. So it does not surprise me that Pilates has become one of the most popular exercises for older women.
Many of us are taking classes to build strength, reduce back pain, lose weight, or to improve coordination and balance. It has some similarities to yoga because it focuses on principles related to concentration, control and centering of the body.
Some of the most important benefits of Pilates for women over 60 are related to the fact that its discipline builds strength in the core muscles. This is what Pilates refers to as the body’s “powerhouse” – the legs, abdominals, arms, hips and back.
Here are a few reasons that Pilates is such a powerful exercise option for women like us:
Many women sit still all day. We sit when we are working, watching TV, eating dinner and using our computer. We all know that being sedentary is one of the worst things we can do for our health. Unfortunately, sitting is all too common in our modern world of conveniences, indoor living and “screen time.”
Pilates is a great way for us older women to start exercising because it’s safe and low-impact. You can start doing Pilates at almost any level of fitness and cardiovascular strength. Of course, you should be sure to check with your doctor first before embarking on a new weight loss or fitness plan, especially if you have any known health issues or haven’t worked out in a while.
Pilates helps strengthen and tone the muscles, starting from the body’s core. Many women over 60 have mentioned to me that they look and feel more confident as a result of doing Pilates. This makes sense as Pilates helps make your back stronger, helping you stand up straighter.
Pilates has positive effects on many aspects of how you carry yourself throughout the day. It’s not just about how you look to other people, but how it makes you feel on the inside too.
As I wrote previously, older women are often at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. As a result, another benefit of Pilates for women is that it’s a weight-bearing exercise that can help with “bone building” to strengthen your bones as well as your muscles. And, it can do this without exposing your body to many of the risks that you might encounter by lifting weights at the gym.
Pilates does not require special equipment. While some classes use a Pilates ball or stretchy band, these are optional. So, Pilates can be done in almost any setting – at home by yourself, with a personal trainer or coach, or in a Pilates class.
There are also classes pretty much everywhere. Almost any fitness center, gym or YMCA offers Pilates classes, and there are also instructional videos available online. All of these factors make Pilates one of the most convenient and enjoyable workouts to try.
As we all know, exercise is absolutely essential for every aspect of our health – mind, body and spirit. At our age, working out is not just about looking and feeling our best, although this is important. It’s also about having the energy and flexibility to stay active, play with our grandkids and take advantage of every opportunity that life throws our way.
Also, as with any fitness program, Pilates gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps to build self-esteem. When you commit to Pilates and start to see the results, you will know that you have taken control of your life and that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
One final benefit of Pilates is the opportunity to meet new people. Not only does it give us an opportunity to get out of the house. It also puts us in direct contact with other people who share a similar spark for life and a desire to improve themselves.
The founder of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, said that, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young.” Here’s to many years of supple strength for the women in our community!
Do you do Pilates? What do you like about it? Have you seen significant health benefits and progress toward your weight loss goals?
If you like Pilates, you may also want to consider gentle yoga. Here are some of the main benefits of yoga for women over 60.