This morning, you woke up another day older, let’s celebrate! Though some of us have our different reservations about getting older, I love how Betty Freidan described aging - “Aging is not ‘lost youth,’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
This morning, you woke up another day older, let’s celebrate! Though some of us have our different reservations about getting older, I love how Betty Freidan described aging - “Aging is not ‘lost youth,’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” And part of that strength is found through movement! In fact, exercise is proven to aid in healthy aging, helping sustain one’s independence longer. There’s no one magic anti-aging exercise, but activities that focus on strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility are known to improve health and physical ability. Pilates naturally involves movements and routines that focus on those things.
Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility; developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. At first glance, Pilates can be intimidating and perceived as “hard.” A person may think they have to have a certain amount of flexibility before they can even start. However, that’s a myth! Don’t get me wrong, Pilates can be challenging, but it is very modifiable, so all levels of experience and all ages can participate! Take anti-aging Pilates, for example.
Anti-aging Pilates has become a thing. Last year Dr.Oz featured some “Anti-aging Pilates” routines on his show. And I recently saw a headline that read “Is Pilates the New Botox.” It is trending! Anti-aging Pilates in the media may be partly clickbait and entertainment, but I can’t argue with the facts. Pilates can aid in healthy aging!
For example, in a study that examined the effects of Pilates on seniors, Pilates helped improve their overall health (1). Researchers used a wellness scale, a quality of life questionnaire which measures overall status and well-being, to gather baseline data. Then, each participant completed a 50-minute Pilates session three times a week for 12 weeks. The first half of the study consisted of mat Pilates exercises, while they used bands in the latter half. Some activities included pelvic clock, spine stretch forward, swan, and saw. At the end of the 12 weeks, the participants completed another wellness scale. What the researchers observed were significant improvements in physical, spiritual, and emotional wellness among the participants (1). These results demonstrate the positive impact Pilates not only has on one’s physical health but their mental health as well, both of which are equally important as we age.
More specifically, studies have shown Pilates can also improve bone density. This is important as we age, considering changes in our bones can impact our posture and walk and cause slowed movement. Low bone density, also known as osteopenia, increases one risk for breaking bones. 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 and 1 in 5 men will experience osteoporotic fractures.
In a Clinical Research study, Pilates was found to help improve Bone Mineral Density (BMD) (2). This specific study observed postmenopausal women who had been recently diagnosed with osteoporosis. Forty women were divided into two groups - the pilates group and the control group. Within the Pilates group, the women completed 1-hour Pilates classes three days a week for 24 weeks. Each session included a warm-up, main exercise routine, and a cool down. The exercises grew in level of difficulty every three weeks. Props such as bands and balls were added towards the latter end of the program. At the end of the six months, the BMD lumbar region was scanned with DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), measuring bone mineral density using spectral imaging. The results showed that the pilates group had a significant increase at BMD values after exercise compared to the control group. Impressive, right!
Each day as we get a little older and a little wiser, be encouraged to start moving! Any exercise will aid in healthy aging, as long as it’s done safely. If you are interested in trying out Pilates in Nashville, Marathon Pilates has expanded and opened the doors to their new location on 12 South on late this past September. They offer group classes, privates classes, and virtual classes. Visit their website and learn more today!