Benefits of Pilates for Seniors. Staying active and keeping fit is important for every body but especially for seniors. Many forms of exercise can be hard going on the bodies of older adults. This is why many seniors have turned to Pilates to keep active whilst reducing risk of injury. In this blog we will discuss why Pilates is attractive for older adults to stay fit and healthy.
1 Pilates Increases Balance and Coordination
Certain movements in a Pilates will really challenge your balance within a session. Not only do you need to concentrate on performing the exercise with a good technique but to keep your balance at the same time. More challenging exercises will improve the efficiency of the deep stabilising muscles (erector spinae, transverse abdominis, and internal oblique muscles). Therefore with regular practice you will not only become stronger but develop a greater sense of balance and coordination. A recent study suggested an 8 week modified Pilates exercise program had a positive impact on the gait of elderly participants. This was potentially by enhancing neuromuscular adjustment, which may have positive implications for reducing their fall risk. Therefore Pilates could help seniors avoid falls and broken bones.
2 Improves Bone Density
Pilates is a fantastic way to strengthen bones and therefore help prevent fractures for people with osteoporosis. Bone, is a dynamic tissue (like muscles) which respond well to resistance and bodyweight exercises. The majority of Pilates exercises use your own bodyweight as a resistance to strengthen tissues (bone, muscle, fascia, tendons and ligaments) whilst being low impact on your joints. Body parts are moving against the force of gravity and Pilates equipment resistance which increases strength, muscle mass and therefore support good bone health. Furthermore Pilates can help increase bone density and decrease pain levels (Angin et al 2015). If you have reduced bone mineral density like osteopenia or osteoporosis then Pilates is a great form of exercise to help strengthen your bones in a safe and low impact manner. Your Pilates instructors are highly skilled and will modify exercises accordingly specific to your needs.
3 Pilates and Posture
Modern day postures can lead to hunched shoulders and poor upper back mobility which can create muscular imbalances. A hunched posture will restrict upper back movements potentially causing shoulder, neck or lower back pain. Pilates helps to proactively support demanding job roles and bad postural habits by creating better muscular balances through symmetrical exercises. It will give your a greater sense of body awareness and be able to correct our posture to feel more naturally aligned. Reformer Pilates is beneficial as it gives you feedback on your right alignment so you can self correct. Furthermore with regular practice this will transfer into your everyday tasks to support your active lifestyles. Improving your alignment will help reduce aches and pains, improve your breathing mechanics and digestion.
4 Improved Breathing and Circulation
As we become more rounded with age, there will reduced upper back movement which will affect your rib mechanics and therefore your breathing capacity. Therefore it is important to improve your upper back mobility and rib mechanics through stretching and strengthening to offset the effects of ageing. By doing this you will increase the joints range of motion and strengthen your muscles involved with respiration. The added benefit will be more efficient breathing will lead to increased blood circulation and better digestion. Pilates encourages breathing from your lower ribs and diaphragm (as opposed to your upper ribs) to improve efficiency and optimise your respiratory system.
Benefits of Pilates for Seniors
5 Improved Strength and Flexibility
Muscular strength decreases with age especially in the lower body. Muscle mass generally contributes up to about 50% of total bodyweight in young adults, but decreases with age to be about 25% of total bodyweight by age 75–80 years (Short et al 2004). Physical inactivity will contribute to muscle loss which, in turn, leads to decreased muscular endurance resulting in early fatigue and an increased risk of falling. Moreover loss of muscle power affects the older adult’s everyday tasks like walking, climbing stairs and lifting themselves out of a chair. Flexibility also deteriorates with age. Pilates’ exercises will address these issues and improve the body’s muscular balance.
Benefits of Pilates for Seniors
6 Improved Wellness and Confidence
Wellness is defined as a lifelong process that at any given time produces a positive state of personal well-being, of feeling good about your self; of optimal physical, psychological, and social functioning; and the control and minimisation of both internal and external risk factors for both diseases and negative health conditions (Roh 2016). Spending more time in active exercises helps build better relationships with others. Moreover Pilates gives us a sense of accomplishment as you will start to see results. Clients feel more confident and self empowered knowing they are taking control of their own health. Furthermore Pilates puts us in direct contact with other people who share similar targets in life and a desire for self improvement.
“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.” Joseph Pilates.
7 Pre and Post Surgery Rehabilitation
Pilates is a great way to prepare and indeed recovery from hip and knee replacement surgery. Generally it takes around 3-6 months to fully recover from total hip surgery and 12-18 months from total knee replacements. Factors which affect your ability to recover are overall health, physical condition, age, attitude and adherence to rehab exercises will contribute to their healing time. Levine et al (2009) suggested Pilates was safe post hip and knee surgery rehab activity with no reported side effects and high satisfaction levels were recorded after 1 year follow up. Adapted Pilates exercises were given to increase the range of motion, flexibility, strength and stamina of adjacent joints and muscles for patients after hip or knee arthroplasty. Benefits of these exercises may be seen with improved balance and return to other athletic activities.
Benefits of Pilates for Seniors summary
Is Pilates good for the over 50s?
Yes absolutely! Pilates is good for your balance and coordination, bone density, posture, breathing, circulation, strength, flexibility, wellness and confidence. At Wellthy Clinic we deliver Osteopath led private (1:1,2:1 or 3:1) studio Pilates classes in central London W1. If you have any questions please call us on 07766 093159 or book in online. At Wellthy Clinic
Levine et al (2009) Pilates Training for Use in Rehabilitation after Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty: A Preliminary Report Clinical Orthopaedics and related research https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2674181/
Roh et al (2016) Effects of modified Pilates on variability of inter-joint coordination during walking in the elderly Journal of Physical Therapy Science https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5276783/
Roh (2016) The effect of 12-week Pilates exercises on wellness in the elderly Journal of exercise Rehabilitation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849491/
Short et al (2004) Age and aerobic exercise training effects on whole body and muscle protein metabolism. American Journal of Endocrinology Metabolism. https:/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14506079/