Developed in the 1920s, Pilates rose to popularity in recent decades. It’s an exercise system that focuses on the spine and core muscle group, aiming to build strength and flexibility through low-impact movements. Stressing alignment, posture, and breathing, Pilates uses moves that may initially seem small or simple but are challenging when done correctly and repeatedly. It aims to be accessible for all people, regardless of age or fitness level, and works both to improve your fitness level and to help rehabilitate injuries.
Probably the most well-known Pilates move – the Hundred – is all about abs. But exercises that target your tummy are hardly the only reason it’s a dynamo core workout. Most Pilates moves require you to keep proper alignment and challenge your stability to stay balanced, which helps fire up your midsection.
The workout is about strengthening and stretching – and research has shown it comes with a major muscle-loosening payoff.
- Loosen up tight muscles. Feeling a bit stiff from your day job or workout? Stretching is a great way to relieve any tightness and tension.
- Increase flexibility and range of motion. Stretching helps your muscles and joints become more flexible.
- Improve posture. Bad desk posture killing your vibe? A recent study suggests that stretching may help you be more aware of your posture and avoid that forward slump in your shoulders.
- Reduce pain. Because stretching helps ease muscle tension, it may help reduce pain caused by chronic conditions or injuries.
- Lower your risk of injury. Working out or doing physical activity without a proper warmup can put you on the path to potential injury. A daily stretch sesh may help prevent strains and sprains.
- Boost your circulation. A better blood flow can benefit your overall heart health, improve muscle recovery, and reduce soreness.
- Relieve stress. Stretching can help relieve tension for a stress-free body and mind.