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Pilates: Stepping Up Your Fitness Game Even as a Senior
As you grow older, keeping fit becomes the most important thing to ensure that you’ll still be able to do the things that you love doing, be it travelling around the world, dancing, or gardening.
Around the age of 40, you will start losing a good amount of muscle mass per decade. Recent research has shown, though, that this is not a natural effect of ageing. Rather, it is due mainly to a lack of physical activity. However, many forms of exercise can be difficult for older adults.
Because your muscles and bones are not the same now that you are in your 60s or 70s as when you were in your 20s, it is important that you engage in a physical activity that is safe and appropriate for your age, especially when you have not been active for quite some time. This doesn’t mean though that one should forego exercise altogether just because you are afraid of getting injured.
Keeping yourself active can ultimately reduce the risk of pain or injury. That’s why, as an elderly, you should look into starting a safe exercise regimen right away. And what better way to actively age than to join a Pilates class offered by a team of physiotherapists and physiologists.
Pilates for the elderly
Experts say that Pilates is perfect for older adults because it has a lesser impact on the body, unlike other forms of exercise, which build bulky muscles that tend to be prone to injury. Pilates focuses on building core muscles, including the back, hips, arms, legs, and abdominals.
In fact, it is a gentle way to help seniors get back in shape since most of the exercises are performed while sitting or reclining. As opposed to using gym equipment, which can be too much for the elderly, especially those in home cares, Pilates uses techniques that have light resistance.
Benefits of Pilates for seniors
Most people tend to lessen the number of activities they do as they age for fear of injury or pain. This is why many older adults lead sedentary lives, which is detrimental to one’s health. But by joining a Pilates class, you’ll have a safer way to stay fit and healthy.
Here are some of the amazing benefits you’ll gain with Pilates:
- Balance and stability
What makes Pilates different from other forms of exercise is that it focuses on the midrange of the body, not the extremities, which are more at risk of injury. Gradually working toward the other parts of the body, Pilates maintains control around the joints through a small range of motions. In turn, this helps increase an elderly’s stability, which is crucial for their balance and posture. Seniors who engage in Pilates regularly will be less at risk of falling or tripping.
- Ability to fight diseases
This physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century is also a great way to combat various diseases, including arthritis, osteoporosis, lumbar stenosis, and even Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. There are exercises that reduce joint compression, increase bone density in the hip and spine, stretch tight muscles, and strengthen the spine’s muscles.
Balancing exercises can also help stroke patients recover faster by allowing their bodies to move symmetrically.
- Proper breathing
In Pilates, you will learn how to use proper breathing to control each exercise. This helps alleviate stress and calm you down.
- Posture and confidence
Once your body becomes limber, stronger, and more flexible, you’ll notice that your posture is improved. And because you look and feel good about yourself even when you’re in your 60s, 70s, or 80s, you’ll still feel more confident.
- Quality of life
When your bones and muscles are strong, you will have more energy to stay active. This lets you enjoy various activities even when you’re in respite care, including playing or spending quality time with your family and friends. As a result, you’ll be able to get the most of life despite your age.
Pilates exercises for older adults
TOE DROPS – first, you need to lie on your back with your legs bent. While your back is pressed on the floor, drop your right toes to the floor, and then return to the original position. Do this on the other side. Repeat six times on each side.
SWAN – lie on the mat face down with your arms kept close to your body. Bend your elbows to bring your hands under your shoulders. Keep your legs together, and then lift your belly button away from the floor. This engages the core, lengthens the spine, and boosts your energy.
ROLL UP – extend your feet and hands while lying on the floor. Lift your upper body as you tighten your core muscles. As you bring your hands forward, fold toward your feet. Then, slowly roll your back down to the floor. Lie back down and repeat the steps six times.
MERMAID – start by sitting on the mat with both legs folded to the left side. While in this position, extend the left arm toward the ceiling to stretch your spine. Extend even further by moving the opposite hand farther away from the body. Return to the first position by sending the left sit bone down and by lifting up the torso. Repeat the steps on both sides to complete.
SIDE CIRCLES – lie on your side and stretch your leg toward the ceiling. Then, move your leg and do small circles clockwise and counterclockwise. Lower your leg and then, switch to the other leg.
LYING OPPOSITE ARM-LEG REACH – lie on the mat facing down while your hands and feet are stretched. With your abs tightened, slowly lift your right arm and left leg up for five seconds. Then, lower them back down and switch to the other side. Repeat this six times.
Be a fitter, stronger senior with Pilates
It’s never too late to stay in shape. But to ensure that all the exercises you will be doing are safe and suitable for your needs, seek professional help at all times.