5 Benefits of Pilates Mat Exercises

Why a regular practice can benefit you on and off the mat

Disclaimer:   Please remember to check with your physician before beginning any new exercise program, including a new Pilates Mat program.  

Regular Exercise is Important

In today’s fast-paced world, women (and men) must sometimes balance work, family, friends, and personal responsibilities.   As a result, it is often difficult to save time to exercise.

However, finding time to regularly exercise is important.   Regular exercise has many both physical and emotional benefits.   It can make you stronger and more flexible.   It can also help to counter the stresses that you encounter while trying to juggle home, work, and self.

Exercise can come in many forms.   Some people get their exercise through long walks, others like play racquetball, while some others enjoy swimming.

Many forms of exercise exist, and they all have benefits to you.   Therefore, no one can use a lack of choice of exercise choices as a justification to avoid exercise.   Everyone should be able to find an exercise that is both enjoyable and adaptable to their schedule and lifestyle.


The Benefits of Pilates Mat

Personally, one of my favorite forms of exercise is Pilates Mat.    I love it because it is adaptable.   If you have a mat and someone/something to instruct you on the proper way to perform the movements, Pilates Mat classes can be done with almost anywhere.  Therefore, you can decide to do Pilates Mat where it is convenient for you, whether that be at home or in a studio/gym.

Pilates Mat exercises are very popular because they have many benefits to the body and mind.   Five of the most significant benefits are listed and explained below.


Mind-Body Connection

Doing Pilates Mat can strengthen the relationship between your mind and body because the proper execution of Pilates exercises requires focus and concentration.

In other words, doing Pilates Mat exercises requires you to focus on the nuances of the movements.    Factors that include the degree of extension in your limbs, the angle of your arm or leg levers, and the stillness of your torso, can greatly impact the difficulty and/or effectiveness of a movement.    Furthermore, some Pilates Mat exercises require you to concentrate on keeping some parts of your body completely still while simultaneously focusing on movement in other parts of your body.

Therefore, if you don’t maintain focus and concentration while doing a Pilates Mat movement, it is unlikely that you will properly perform each movement. In fact, you risk either getting injured while doing the movements or making the exercises less effective.

Focus on Alignment

Spine So how does focusing on the principles required to execute pilates movements help you when you are “off the mat”?   Well, like anything else, skills and tasks that you practice regularly are likely to become habitual.

For instance, during a regular Pilates exercise practice you will need to become attuned to your alignment.  This way, you can make any necessary positional adjustments to get you in the right anatomical position for the movement.

The focus on your alignment will not disappear when you leave your mat.  In fact, you will likely become more aware of habits that you didn’t previously notice.  You will most likely become more focused on your alignment in your daily activities.   For instance, you may become more aware of how you sit or move when at your computer, steering wheel, or checkout line.    Hopefully, this increased awareness will make you more likely to make positive postural adjustments to your position that you may not have previously noticed.

Focus on Breathe

breathe here nowOr, the focus on attention to the breathe while doing Pilates exercises may also give benefits off of the mat.  You can learn to be more cognizant of your breathe.    (In general, during a Pilates Mat class, you focus on inhaling through the nose and exhaling out the mouth.  The exhale in Pilates can be somewhat powerful because it can assist you with the execution of the hardest part of a Pilates exercise.) In turn, you can become more attuned to the messages that your breathing can convey and be more likely to react mindfully, with intention, instead of reacting to an impulse at the moment.

For instance, if you know that you practice a short and shallow breathe when your body is tired or stressed, the increased awareness on your breathe may help you to better recognize when your body is starting to become tired or stressed.   You may be able to make quicker action to ensure that your body not get to the point where it is over tired or over stressed.    For instance, even something as simply as returning the focus to maintaining a steady and deep breathe like you use in Pilates mat or yoga classes may help you to relax.


Improves Core Strength

Pilates at home is one of the most effective and challenging ways of developing core strength and stability.  (Core muscles include the abdomen, lower back, and glutes.)  A strong core improves overall daily function as well as posture.


Promotes Muscular Endurance and Flexibility

Pilates Mat exercises also promote significant increases in abdominal endurance, hamstring flexibility and upper-body muscular endurance. This endurance can help women work and play longer without tiring. In addition, muscular endurance is a key preventative factor in the long-term avoidance of injury.


Optimize Body Composition

Regular Pilates practice helps enhance overall body composition. Pilates focuses on lengthening and strengthening the body, and when you repeatedly stretch and strengthen, you tend to lose fat, increase lean muscle mass, and have a more balanced body composition.


Maintain Spine Health

Pilates mat exercises can often help people with back issues because it helps to strengthen the muscles in the back.  Therefore, Pilates Mat can be particularly effective for people who suffer from pain caused by excessive movement and degeneration of the vertebrae and joints.

One reason that Pilates Mat is beneficial for many people with back issues is because many Pilates Mat exercises require you to emphasis proper back alignment in order to prevent excess stress on the spinal column.    Someone who practices Pilates Mat regularly may be able to duplicate this awareness into their “off the mat” activities.  Their increased focus and attention to spinal alignment can help them better recognize how to hold their body when sitting, standing, and moving during their daily activities.


The Benefits of Pilates

No matter what your schedule or priorities, finding time for mat Pilates is a must.    Its vast array of benefits will help you to work towards improving your life.

Free 30 Day Challenge

If you are hesitant about attending a class at a gym or studio, don’t worry!  You can learn 30 common Pilates Mat exercises without having to worry about any cost and location barriers.  Just join our FREE 30 day Pilates Mat challenge for beginners  to learn the fundamentals.

Please don’t delay; starting a Pilates Mat practice is a beneficial breeze!

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