Pilates is ideal for older people as it can provide a safe effective workout in largely reclining or sitting positions. Most Pilates exercises are low-impact and partially weight-bearing, which is good for the prevention of osteoporosis, the brittle-bone disease. The gentle routines build strength and improve posture, flexibility and agility. They are also good for balance, another plus for the fall-prone elderly, and correct breathing is encouraged, which reduces stress and anxiety.
Broadcaster Joan Bakewell started doing Pilates 13 years ago, when she was in her 60s. She chose it because it’s easy:
“I wanted something that didn’t expose my own efforts to ridicule and contempt,” she says. “That is, I had to be able to do it. Two other things; I didn’t want exercises that left me puffing and red in the face, nor did I want to pound machines. What I wanted was subtlety, thoughtfulness and my own place in a quiet and peaceful setting.”
Bakewell cites a tremendous sense of well-being as one of the main benefits of Pilates. But there’s more: “It is wonderful for injuries,” she says. “And rehabilitation of patients is quicker, easier and less costly if they are basically fit and able.”
Probably the best advertisement for the programme is its founder, Joseph Pilates, who was lively, active and still teaching until his death – from a fire at his studio – at the age of 87.
Neck and shoulders problems
We spend hours each day hunched over computers and steering wheels, slumped on trains, sofas and bar stools, rounding our shoulders and inadvertently helping to cause the musculo-skeletal disorders that are such a feature of modern life. Once damage has been done, even reaching for something on a high shelf can be painful.
It doesn’t have to stay that way. We rely on good muscle balance and strong ligaments to keep the shoulder joint stable, and Pilates exercises can improve body awareness and posture, strengthen muscles and achieve free-flowing movement, thereby reducing the chance of developing shoulder pain caused by poor posture or repetitive activity, or helping to heal a chronic complaint.
Everyday anxiety is a problem, too. When we are stressed, the first place we feel it is in the neck and upper shoulders. Because these tensions can build up with time and contribute to muscle imbalances, simple relaxation is the first of the eight principles of the Pilates method.
Give us a call for a no obligation chat about how you can benefit from a tailored programme of Pilates sessions.