When approaching health from a holistic point of view, exercise is one of the key ingredients required. There are many ways to get your body moving; aerobic/cardio styles, weights, incidental exercise around the home or workplace, and mindful exercise such as yoga and Pilates.
Let’s hone in on one particular style; one that is beneficial for women’s health, one that works the deep stabilising core muscles and the pelvic floor, and one that has been proven to be effective in reducing the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in our body; Pilates.
We have all heard the term ‘pelvic floor’ before, and probably have a relatively good base level understanding of its importance; don’t forget your kegels ladies. But of course, without the proper exercise and engagement, there will be no benefits. Essentially the pelvic floor is a hammock of muscles and ligaments that attaches to the pubic bone, sit bones on both sides and to the tailbone. Its main function is for bladder and bowel control of course, but it plays a HUGE part in supporting the weight of a growing fetus during pregnancy; facilitating the birthing process and also support and stability for the spine. The prevalence of core focused movements throughout Pilates is the perfect way to incorporate targeted exercises for your core and pelvic floor.
While Pilates has an element of dynamic cardio and fitness, the relation and importance of breath with movement, awareness of posture, and correct engagement of your core separates it from your regular fitness classes.
The mind/breath/movement connection makes it a calming form of exercise, which calls for a lot of focus and coordination. A group of researchers from the University of Illinois reported in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health that Pilates has been proven to significantly reduce stress levels, improve memory and function of your nervous system, as well as increase overall happiness and creativity.
Alex Fish – pilates instructor