Is Pilates Beneficial for Your Mental Health?

Since its inception in the 1920s, Pilates has become very popular and practiced around the world to increase muscle strength, improve flexibility and posture as well as refine the silhouette. However, recent research has shown that Pilates has much more to offer, providing not only a multitude of physical benefits, but also many positive impacts on mental health.

Here are some scientifically proven benefits demonstrating that Pilates is a real "all-inclusive" regarding physical activity and inner peace.

Breathing to Deepen Body Awareness 

Breathing is the most powerful tool to calm the mind and is used in many practices such as yoga and meditation. Breathing is also one of the basic principles of Pilates. Each exercise involves a particular breathing pattern to optimize its effectiveness and provide oxygen to the muscles.

 By focusing on breathing, the mind is not distracted by our daily tasks or other obligations. The focus is on the present, the connection with our breathing and the resumption of control with our body. Thus, we can relax the muscles that store tension and release the emotional baggage related to these tensions and stress.

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Stress Management and Relaxation 

As we already know, exercise helps decrease the hormone released when we live stress—cortisol—and increase the production of pleasure hormones—endorphins. In addition, Pilates can increase our resistance to stress. And in order to coordinate our breathing with our movements and visualize everything that happens inside our body, ignoring everything that happens outside, it becomes a real "in movement" meditation.


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Improved Memory and Workout for the Brain

 During a jog or exercise involving repetitive and automated movements that almost never change, we undoubtedly work our muscles and our cardiovascular health! On the other hand, Pilates simultaneously works body muscles AND the brain. When we perform a variation or a sequence of exercises, we give our body and our brain a real challenge to develop these new skills!

 

In addition, physical activity improves blood circulation and helps move blood to the brain. Good blood flow to the brain = clear mind. In addition, all these benefits contribute to regenerating connections of the cells responsible for developing the memory part of the brain.

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Activation of the Deep Muscles Improves the Functions of the Nervous System

For every movement we make, we use a specific region of our brain. When we want to deliberately move a particular muscle, we may wake up a chain of motions that has long been "asleep." This has the effect of "cleaning up" the nervous system! A healthy nervous system is therefore a better communicator between the brain and all parts of the body.

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Pilates is a Valuable Tool for Fighting Depression and Anxiety

It has long been scientifically proven that regular physical activity is a good complement to medical treatments for depression and anxiety. Pilates is no exception and brings an extra dimension (meditation in motion) than other types of workouts. 

A Pilates training gives you the opportunity to socialize, restore brain hormone levels (serotonin, cortisol, endorphins), move away negative thoughts and release stress and tension. And even if these benefits are only felt for an hour or the duration of a workout, it is still an hour less in a dark and depressed state. Taking care of oneself and establishing a personal wellness routine can only be positive and help to see the light at the end of the tunnel more often or more quickly...

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Pilates Gives Self-confidence

Head up, back straight, stand tall. Good posture is a sign of self-confidence. The essence of Pilates is alignment and good posture. The latter is of course a sign of good health of the spine and therefore affects overall health. But also, good posture provides many benefits on self-confidence. Someone with self-confidence also attracts opportunities to achieve their goals.

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In short, Pilates makes you happy. When the body is stimulated positively, endorphins are released and provide a feeling of well-being, you have better self-esteem and better resistance to external stress, so we can confirm that Pilates is extremely beneficial for mental health and can only bring you happiness. But more importantly, if you like Pilates, it's obvious that it will make you happy to practice it!


 

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References :

Fleming, K. and Herring, M. (2018). The Effects of Pilates on Mental Health Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, [online] 37, pp.80-95. Available at: http://isiarticles.com/bundles... [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].

Healthdirect.gov.au. (2018). Exercise and mental health. [online] Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.a... [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].

McGee, K. (2018). Mind Your Body – Pilates For Your Brain. [online] HuffPost. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com... [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].

Ranzcp.org. (2018). Keeping Body and Mind Together: Improving the physical health and life expectancy of people with serious mental illness. [online] Available at: https://www.ranzcp.org/Files/R... 3 Jul. 2018].

Scott, E. MS. (2018). Using Exercise to Relieve Stress. [online] Verywell Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/h... [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].

Hassan EA, Amin MA. Pilates Exercises Influence on the Serotonin Hormone, Some Physical Variables and the Depression Degree in Battered Women. World Journal of Sport Sciences.2011. 5 (2) : 89-100.