The mind-body benefits of Pilates

Recall the phrase, “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it?”

The old me (a decade or so ago) would have never believed that mindful movements that were low impact and incorporating stretching, balance, and breath work could pay off in the physical and mental sense.

The new me is overwhelmed with joy that Pilates is incorporated into my daily routine. Not only do I sleep well, but my body feels strong, healthy, and capable; the deep breaths are soothing, my posture is better, and it’s far from taxing.

Pilates was a recommendation by my neurologist.

When you pair yourself with a great medical team, the recommendations outside of your traditional treatment plan can pay off in spades.

Let’s start with how much time is recommended to incorporate in your daily/weekly schedule for physical movement?

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion via Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), states that for Americans to receive substantial health benefits it is recommended that adults do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of a moderate intensity exercise per week.

They define “moderate intensity” activities to include: walking briskly, active forms of yoga, line dancing, general yard work, water aerobics, recreational swimming, or tennis with a partner.

“Today, about half of all American adults – 117 million people – have one or more preventable chronic diseases.”**

Dedicating time to exercise can lower risk of: “coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”*

I like to change up my exercise routine here and there, but I also have my favorites.

I began my Pilates practice in 2016. Some years it has been more prominent in my routine, some years less.  In 2022-2023 it has been my primary exercise routine and I am committed to continuing it. My daily practice ranges from 25 minutes – 50 minutes.

“Very few 30 minute workouts give your body everything it needs – cardio, strength building, and stretching.”*

Many workouts give your body just one or two of the three. Examples:

Soccer Cardio
Tennis Cardio
P90X Strength building, cardio
Vigorous yoga methods Strength building, stretching
Rigorous swimming Cardio, strength building, stretching
Mat Pilates Cardio, strength building, stretching


The top 5 benefits that I appreciate about mat Pilates:

#1- Can be done at home, on vacation, in an airport lounge

#2- Requires no equipment

#3- No downtime between exercises (I can flow through one after another.)

#4- Less risk of injury

#5- Trains the mind as well as the body (similar to the martial arts)

“You use your own body for resistance making your workout extremely efficient.”*  This is impressive, right?

Whatever exercise you choose is up to you. Please be mindful about any health conditions and seek your doctors’ advice prior to beginning any exercise regime.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans explained that being physically active has many benefits:

-Less likely to develop many chronic diseases (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease)

-Can reduce feelings to depression and anxiety

-Can improve sleep quality

-May provide temporary improvements in cognitive function and state anxiety

-Maintain a healthier body weight

To put it in perspective, “Seven of the ten most common chronic diseases are favorably influenced by regular physical activity.”**

The economic burden of this equates to around “$117 billion in annual health care costs and about 10% of premature mortality.”**

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