Joseph Pilates once said that “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness,” an argument which scientifically…is very true. It’s undeniable the functioning of your brain and your associated emotional state are heavily linked to the activity and movement of your body.
So, what does this have to do with Pilates? Well, we all know about Pilates exercise benefits, from increased abdominal and muscular strength to greater flexibility and improved lung capacity. But did you know the benefits of Pilates also apply to your mental and emotional health?
In a time where more and more of us have been struggling with debilitating mental health issues and damaging emotions including stress, grief and sadness due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these benefits of Pilates are more important than ever. Even putting pandemics aside- our modern world is saturated with distractions, chaos, and stressors that drive us all to search for inner serenity and peace.
Taking Pilates classes in Long Beach at Five Starr Pilates & Fitness constitutes a viable and enjoyable tool to improve your mental wellbeing. The best place to embrace these extraordinary health benefits? A Pilates Reformer class! A professional Pilates instructor will be able to read your body, identify signs of stress and strain and advise you on the proper form which will significantly improve your wellness journey and overall relationship with Pilates. So, if you’re searching for a therapeutic break, the benefits of Pilates reformer are exactly what you need.
Let’s discuss the major mental health benefits of taking a Pilates reformer class in Orange County.
1. Pilates Improves Your Memory and Makes You Smarter
Did you know that beginning in your late 20’s, your brain starts to shrink? That’s right. From this early age, the portion of our brain responsible for memory and cognitive function, the hippocampus, begins shrinking by 1% each year. But don’t worry, scientists have found this process can be slowed down, and even reversed through exercise.
Exercises like Pilates Classes which center mindful movement improves neurogenesis, the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus, increasing your capacity to learn and memorize. Meaning Pilates reformer benefits include better memory, lower risks of Alzheimer’s disease, a higher IQ, better learning and problem solving, and better brain function.
There is even evidence the health benefits of Pilates in terms of brain functioning are far superior to that of any other aerobic exercise. You can calm your mind and emotions with Pilates Reformer classes at Five Starr. Mindfulness is, simultaneously one of the biggest health benefits of Pilates.
While mindfulness does originate in ancient Hindu, Chinese and Buddhist traditions, it’s less about spirituality and more about concentration. Meaning your ability to focus intensely on the present, empty your mind of distractions, and dismiss any unwanted thoughts.
Pilates in requiring you to concentrate intensely on the positioning and realignment of the body calls for you to clear your mind. Especially if you are doing coordination or core work with an instructor in a reformer class environment, who has prompted you to visualize specific moves.
Subsequently, Pilates helps you reap all the benefits of traditional meditation, or mindfulness- without sitting still. Pilates is a far more engaging way to treat insomnia, sharpen the mind, relieve stress, help with chronic pain management, reduce negative emotions, help fight addiction and lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.
2. Pilates Helps Train Your Brain
One of the biggest Pilates exercise benefits on the neurological side is its brain training benefits. Learning new activities has been scientifically proven to increase the density of white matter in the brain, ergo the fibers that help neurons communicate. Meaning, Pilates is a proven brain training technique that helps mental multitasking and memory.
3. Pilates Relieves Stress and Tension in the Body and Mind
In today’s world, we can’t deal with problems in the same way our ancestors would have. Fight or flight for so many of the social and professional situations we find ourselves in just doesn’t cut it- so the stress hormones released in those situations have nowhere to go.
So, what happens? We bottle them up. And they lead to serious problems like muscle spasms, hypertension, poor sleep, low self-esteem, and mood swings.
The benefits of Pilates include metabolizing these stress hormones through gentle stretching and gradual conditioning. The facial release techniques and rehabilitating muscle workouts of Pilates reformer classes release tension from the body that can’t be accessed via simple stretching.
Meaning the physical effects of holding a pose during a Pilates Reformer class are far more than you think- they are the equivalent of a de-stressor, leading to improved wellbeing, steadiness, and ease.
4. Pilates Boosts the Functioning of Your Nervous System
Now the specific process is far too complex to describe here, but every time you engage particular muscles you fire an impulse train through your spinal cord that awakens certain neurological fibers of the brain. Pilates Reformer classes benefits include the fact it focuses on deep core activation, which through the process described above constitutes a ‘cleanse’ for your nervous system. This fortifies the health and strength of your nervous system, leading to superior communication between the body and the brain. This allows you to better release beloved mood-boosting hormones like endorphins and serotonin.
5. Pilates Improves Your Emotional Control
Think about how you breathe in different emotional situations.
Faced with something horrifying, our breathing becomes rapid, labored, tight, and high in the chest. Faced with something pleasant and relaxing, it becomes deeper and slower, seeming like it emanates from deeper within your stomach. You see where I’m going with this. Your emotions and breathing are inherently linked. You can literally breathe yourself into calmness or anxiety, which is why if you’ve ever attended cognitive behavioral therapy, your breathing is one of the first areas they target.
Breathing is also, one of the major Pilates principles laid out by Joseph Pilates, as he created exercises specifically to teach students how to fully use their lung and nasal capacity. This is one of the most significant health benefits of Pilates as understanding how to control your breathing is essential to navigating difficulty and stress in unavoidable life situations, from emergency medical events to going to a job interview.
Taking Pilates Reformer Classes with Five Starr
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog article on the numerous physical benefits of taking Pilates classes and what to expect in a class at Five Starr Pilates & Fitness.