The Benefits of Pilates For Your Mental Health
4 key ways Pilates can benefit your emotional and mental wellbeing
Taking up Pilates can help to improve your mood, relieve stress, increase your confidence and boost your brain power.
We all know that Pilates offers a number of physical benefits – from improved flexibility and posture, to weight loss, and increased strength and muscle tone – but did you know that practising Pilates can also be extremely beneficial to your mental health and emotional wellbeing? Here’s why.
Stress is a growing problem in modern society, and it is one of the leading causes of sickness absence in the UK. Pilates offers an effective and natural stress management tool by helping to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and encouraging the release of endorphins – the so-called ‘feel good’ chemicals. Pilates exercises also aid the release of muscle tension through gentle stretching and gradual conditioning, and when you remove the stress from your body, you also remove it from your mind, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed.
Studies have shown that undertaking regular exercise can promote the creation of new brain cells, which has been linked to enhanced memory and improved learning problem solving abilities. There is even some evidence to show that it protects against certain forms of dementia. However, these benefits are only seen if the exercise you undertake engages your brain as well as your body. Unlike running on a treadmill, for example, Pilates involves both your body and mind at the same time enabling you to fully enjoy all the brain-boosting benefits that come with learning a new exercise.
We all know that life can get a little overwhelming at times, and more and more people are turning to mindfulness techniques to help manage their emotions. Research indicates that mindfulness can offer a number of benefits, including an enhanced immune system, better physical health, and greater emotional resilience – but mindfulness doesn’t have to mean sitting still and meditating. A large part of Pilates involves slowing down and paying close attention to the movements of your body and, most importantly, your breathing. By concentrating on these elements, you can, in effect, ‘turn off’ the constant barrage of everyday thoughts and learn to clear your mind and exist in the moment. This in turn can help to calm your brain and improve your mood – it can even help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Last but certainly not least, doing Pilates can really help to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. Good posture and body alignment are key components of Pilates, and research has shown that practising the ‘power’ posture (basically, standing straight and tall with your chest out) can have a noticeable impact on your hormone levels, which in turn can help to make you feel more confident in your day to day life.
The great thing about Pilates is that it is a form of exercise that is accessible to most people. From classical Pilates, to Pilates for pregnancy and even rehab and sports training Pilates, there is a Pilates class out there for everyone. So, find the right one for you and start reaping the mental health benefits of pilates-based exercise.