Is Pilates Safe for Seniors?

Is Pilates Safe for Seniors?

Monday Oct 8th, 2018

Is Pilates Safe for Seniors

The short answer: It’s never too late to take your first Pilates class. Regardless of your age, Pilates improves balance, mobility, and strength. First-timers will quickly realize the individualized and adaptable nature of these workouts.

If you are 65 years of age or older and don’t have any significant health concerns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you participate in at least two and a half hours of aerobic activity per week as well as two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities. Muscle groups involved in strength training, such as Pilates, should include:

  • Abdominals
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Hips
  • Legs
  • Shoulders

Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates, said, “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.” With that in mind, let’s discuss the benefits and risks associated with this form of exercise.

The Benefits of Pilates

Pilates focuses on the body’s “powerhouse,” which is comprised of the legs, arms, hips, and back. At almost any fitness level, the safe and low impact movements of Pilates allow seniors to build strength and endurance throughout the entire body. Designed as a complementary workout to a regular aerobic program such as walking, cycling, or swimming, the Cleveland Clinic states that Pilates provides additional benefits including:

  • Balancing one’s strength and flexibility
  • Enhancing ease of movement
  • Heightening body awareness
  • Helping to prevent injuries
  • Increasing core strength
  • Improving balance, coordination, and circulation
  • Improving postural problems
  • Streamlining and lengthening the body
  • Strengthening the immune system

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that falling has become the leading cause of death for adults 65 and older. Pilates is known to improving participants’ balance and coordination. A recent study in The Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that senior citizens who participated in a one-hour Pilates class, three times per week saw an increase in their balance, flexibility, reaction time, and muscle strength. After the 12-week trial, the Pilates participants’ likelihood of falling decreased by 80%.

Furthermore, Pilates increases mindfulness and supports the overall mental well-being of participants, according to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In fact, people often confuse Pilates and yoga, as they both share a similar philosophy in connecting the body, mind, and spirit.

What Are The Risks?

Injuries in Pilates are most often incurred due to poor technique. This is why it’s essential to find a qualified instructor that ensures safe transitions between postures. By participating in an introductory session, you’ll learn techniques to avoid injuries as well as the specific movements that are best for your current physical ability. It’s important to always inform your instructor of any health concerns that you may have before beginning a class.

How Your Health History Plays A Role

If you have any concerns about your health or are recovering from a recent surgery, always consult your doctor before attending a Pilates class. Inner Balance Pilates has a few recommendations for the following conditions:

  • Osteoporosis: We recommend having a bone density scan before attending your first class. While Pilates.org reports that Pilates is an ideal workout for osteoporosis, we can’t fully adapt our classes to your condition without a recent diagnosis.
  • Chronic low-back pain: Research conducted by Australia’s Griffith University, found that Pilates can ease and improve the daily life of people suffering from low-back pain. We recommend seeing a doctor before participating in a session because every back problem requires different solutions.
  • Knee/hip replacements: Seniors who have had knee or hip replacements may participate in Pilates classes. It’s recommended that you inform the instructor at the beginning of each class so that you will not be asked to participate in any movements that may worsen your condition.

Even if Pilates is approved by your doctor, you should still make your instructor aware of any injuries, illnesses, conditions, or medications that could be affecting you.

What To Expect In A Class

When participating in Pilates for the first time, an instructor will teach you the fundamentals and assess your ability level. During the session, you will learn how to modify postures based on your health history and current limitations.

At Inner Balance Pilates, each class will last about 60 minutes. We use a combination of mat exercises and apparatus work which together provide a well-rounded workout.

Using the mat: Pilates classes on a mat allow you to exercise while using gravity to your advantage. Students can double up on mats for added cushion and use props for comfortable head alignment.

Using an apparatus: The apparatus allows you to lie down on a padded table that provides support as you glide through each position. Using the apparatus challenges your balance and adds resistance to your arms and legs.

Try A Risk-Free Pilates Class

At Inner Balance Pilates, we strongly believe that everyone can benefit from our classes. Remember, Joseph Pilates once said, “If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young.” Sign up for a introductory session to begin your tailor-made health journey.

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