8 Benefits of Pilates

Scoring a rock-hard core is one (awesome) reason to practice Pilates, but it's certainly not the only one.

September 25, 2014
Beth Bischoff

Joseph Pilates, the creator of his eponymous workout method, was definitely on to something. “It’s a one-stop shop for getting fit,” says Brooke Siler, Pilates pro and author of The Women’s Health Big Book of Pilates: The Essential Guide to Total Body Fitness. “The moves of Pilates incorporate stretch, strength, alignment, balance, and cardio, and its movement principles are based on sound physiology -- and it’s been changing bodies for the better for nearly 100 years!” 

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Yep, the total-body workout has even more benefits than you think (it's not ALL about trying to score Kate Hudson's abs). Here are 8 awesome reasons to consider practicing Pilates:

#1 Pilates Benefit: It strengthens your core.
"Pilates is very focused on your center so strong abdominals are a given,” Siler says. "Every movement emanates from what we call your 'powerhouse,' which houses your abs, glutes, and inner thighs.”

#2 Pilates Benefit: It improves your flexibility.
A study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine found that people who did Pilates-based training for 45-minute sessions twice a week saw an increase in their flexibility and lumbo-pelvic stability. “Joe Pilates said ‘you are as young as your spine is flexible’ and with his method we create youth and wellbeing through a supple and articulated spine,” says Siler. “This is particularly useful when trying to counteract the modern day ‘convenience’ of sitting down at your computer for the day and never needing to get up again.”

#3 Pilates Benefit: It helps you sleep.
It’s no secret that hitting the gym can help you snooze, but a new study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found that Pilates is particularly effective when it comes to bed time. The research showed that it can improve sleep patterns, reduce daytime sleepiness, and lessen broken sleep cycles.

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#4 Pilates Benefit: It prevents injuries. “Pilates balances your body and "injury proofs" you through technique and awareness,” Siler says. “First, most of the movements are performed on apparatus that help support and challenge you so that you can keep muscles working with one another and not against one another. Second, the movements are performed with such attention and control that you develop an awareness of how to move to undue bad habits that lead to pain and injury.”

#5 Pilates Benefit: It eases back pain. Have an ache in your lower back? Pilates can help. A recent study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies confirmed that the workout can soothe persistent, non-specific low back pain.

#6 Pilates Benefit: It gives you a hot bod. “The aesthetic benefits -- great posture, a shapely waistline, flat abs, a buoyant bottom -- are a wonderful side-effect of learning how to move in ways that feel great during your work out as well as for days after,” Siler says. 

#7 Pilates Benefit: It boosts your mood. “Pilates is positively one of the best feel-good techniques out there,” says Siler. “And it’s not just an endorphin rush; it creates sustained pleasure that comes from living in a fit and flexible, pain-free body.”

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#8 Pilates Benefit: It's good for your heart. Don’t let that mat fool you -- Pilates actually boasts aerobic qualities that are often overlooked." Joe Pilates was an asthmatic who designed his method to improve breathing by strengthening and stretching the musculature around the ribs and chest to allow for more powerful and efficient breathing mechanics," says Siler. "And when performed as choreographed, Pilates delivers a heart-pumping, calorie-burning workout to rival most gym offerings."

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