Pilates and Older Adults: A Gentler, Effective Way to Stay Fit
For the older population keeping fit is essential. But so many forms of exercise can be hard on the bodies of older adults. Many have turned to Pilates sessions at their local clubs as a way to stay in shape while reducing the risk of injury that weight-bearing exercises may cause. With its focus on controlled breathing and quality of movement-not quantity of repetitions-many experts agree that Pilates is one of the best ways for older adults to stay healthy.
Pilates is perfect for older adults because it does not have the impact on the body that other forms of exercise do, and is not nearly as severe on the joints as most workouts are. It really is a gentle way to exercise. If you’re an older adult and haven’t exercised in a while, Pilates is a safe way to restart a workout program.
Most conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles more prone to injury–especially in the body of an older adult. Pilates focuses on building a strong “core”–the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Many of the exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and most are low impact and partially weight-bearing. It also can positively affect postural positions.
Pilates for older adults, particularly on a Reformer (resistance-based equipment with springs and ropes connected to a sliding padded carriage) is wonderful because it is a relatively light resistance as opposed to some gym equipment, where even the lightest weight on the rack might be too much for them. Pilates is also great for the mature adult as far as rebuilding bone density. Through the natural aging process, bone loss begins to outpace bone rebuilding. Bone loss speeds up in woman after menopause, as estrogen, a hormone that helps protect bones, decreases. Overall, to keep healthy as we age one should get moving, keep moving, and stick to lightweight resistance exercises such as Pilates and walking to maintain stronger bones.