Physical fitness oftentimes feels more challenging the older you get, however, this does not mean that seniors should avoid it altogether or take the “easy way” out. Being over the age of 65, or a senior, opens a host of other exercise options, including exercise that is gentle and pleasurable. Pilates is becoming more popular amongst seniors as it perfectly fits the bill for gentle yet effective exercise. Here are some reasons why Pilates is the new exercise of choice for seniors:
Helps Strengthen the Bones
Roughly half of all adults over 50 have bone loss or low bone density, with women 4 times as likely as men to develop osteoporosis, putting them at an even higher risk for sudden and unexpected bone fractures. Pilates is a low impact, weight bearing exercise that will work on building up your bones as well as your muscles. Simply by placing stress on bones through physical activity, your body is cued to send cells to start building more bone in its place. Seniors with osteoporosis can put themselves at risk of injury by trying to lift heavy weights in order to build up their strength. With Pilates, this risk is lessened or lowered.
Aids Chronic conditions
There are certain painful ailments which can be alleviated with Pilates as exercise. Take for example, seniors who are suffering from arthritis, or joint inflammation. They need fitness solutions that will help provide support to loosen stiff joints and increase range of motion. The gentle mid-range movements of Pilates ensure that there is motion around the joints without added strain, making it easier to manipulate and move the body without pain or discomfort.
For other diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, debilitating effects can be slowed down or aided by Pilates practice. A 2014 study, for example, found the MS patients who practiced Pilates for 8 weeks compared to a control group experienced improved balance, mobility, and muscle strength.
Better Balance and Stability
The movements that are practiced in Pilates help to center and align the midrange of the body. This also helps prevent one from getting injured on the arms or legs where there is often increased weakness. With Pilates, seniors can build up their midrange, and then over time, they will also build up their end range with lower stress and strain on vulnerable joints. The focus can then be placed on balance as there is more control. Since the movements are smaller in their range, then it also becomes easier to maintain stability. This helps their health as they are able to improve their posture, as well as their overall functional movement.
When you are considering exercise for seniors, equipment may pose a challenge that is intimidating or too much for them to manage. Pilates does not require any special or heavy equipment to be practiced successfully – you may even simply use a stretchy resistance band or an inflated Pilates Ball. The lack of equipment also adds to the flexibility with which you can carry out the exercises. As an instructor, you can help seniors in the comfort of their homes, in an outdoor park under a warm sun, or even in the gym within a Pilates class. Seniors may also feel aided by orthotic aids like knee braces or compression sleeves – more info.
Seniors have special needs when it comes to keeping fit and getting in shape. Even without vigorous movements, a well-structured Pilates program can make a considerable difference in their overall health and wellness, as well as in their perception of exercise and motivation to stay active. There is also the benefit of bringing people together in a Pilates class, which adds a social element to the entire exercise experience. Overtime, it has been highly popular with women, and is also picking up with men.