Pilates – benefits for your mental health
You are probably aware of the physical benefits of Pilates such as increased flexibility, dynamic balance, muscular endurance and treating aches and pains. However, you may not know the positives it does for mental health.
The past few years have been particularly challenging for most people, negatively impacting mental health. The number of people diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression have risen by a massive 25% in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic - according to a scientific brief released by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is therefore more important than ever to take time to prioritise your mental health.
A recent study (Soori, Heirani & Rafie 2022) found that Pilates exercises are more valuable than aerobic training in treating depression, when comparing the effect of the Aerobic and Pilates exercises on mental health in inactive older women. This may be due to the fact Pilates gives you the chance to disconnect from our busy, stressful lives and take time to slow down. Engaging in Pilates changes the focus to the ‘here and now’ through exercises and breathing control. Breathing control is one of Joseph Pilates’ 8 Principles of Pilates and an essential component in all Pilates classes. This emphasis on breathing technique and mindful thinking can help to reduce overthinking, stress, anxiety, enhance concentration, and even improve sleeping habits.
A large aspect of Pilates involves co-ordination of movements which can sometimes be a challenge. It facilitates the brain to learn a new skill, keeping the mind always engaged. Consequently, improving memory and brain training have a positive impact on your mental health. You are likely to find after a session you can think more clearly, helping with problem solving in your work or personal life.
Attending a Pilates class helps you to create a self-care routine – enabling time for yourself and prioritising your own health. There is also great social benefit of joining a group Pilates class. This environment facilitates you to meet new people, mingle and feel less isolated, or an activity you can do with current friends.
Sara Soori, Ali Heirani & Forouzan Rafie (2022) Effects of the aerobic and Pilates exercises on mental health in inactive older women, Journal of Women & Aging, 34:4, 429-437, DOI: 10.1080/08952841.2021.1924576
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