Whether you exercise at a young or old age, it’s never too late. Older adults often experience pain in their joints due to loss of flexibility associated with aging. Pilates for seniors is a great option for low impact exercise.
Pilates is one of the exercises you can start to incorporate in your daily routine. Before we dive into the types of Pilates workouts, let’s explore the basics.
What is Pilates?
It is a low impact exercise that strengthens your muscles. It also improves your postural alignment and flexibility through controlled breathing.
Pilates may or may not require equipment but through slow and precise movements it targets your core. With core muscles, Pilates targets your abdominals, hips, thighs and the back that builds your strength and improves posture.
To allow better movement during your everyday task, Pilates has many benefits:
- Helps with balance
- Builds core muscles
- Stabilizes core body foundation
- Helps with mobility
- Helps with flexibility
- Assists with mental health
Pilates also provides benefits to your mental health. It assists your body and mind through a controlled breathing pattern. Doing this supplies oxygen and removes waste products from muscles.
It also helps with body awareness says celebrity Pilates teacher Siri Dharma Galliano. In short it helps you train your mind.
Pilates targets your lower back, upper back and neck. Ultimately helping to improve posture.
Additionally, it helps develop strength and build muscles.
Lack of exercise can result in weak muscles that may lead to imbalance and poor body alignment.
Pilates requires you to activate your muscles in order to allow correct movement patterns. This is achieved with controlled breathing that aligns your muscles to your body during exercise.
As you age, you can lose range of motion. Weak muscles and joint immobility are few factors that may result.
To slow down the physiological effects of aging, Pilates focuses on your spine and deep abdominal muscles that can help reverse joint instability. Additionally it helps your spine to easily move its range of motion.
Top At-Home Pilates Workout
Pilates sessions normally range from 45 minutes to an hour. You can also experience improved changes in strength and stability by just doing 10 to 15 minute sessions for a few weeks.
While you can do Pilates at the gym with or without equipment, mentioned below are some easy Pilates exercises that you can do at home.
All you need is a mat and a little floor space to get you started.
Pilates Exercise #1 – Knee Rear Leg Raises
Lack of physical activity results in poor strength and imbalance. This can affects your movement while performing daily activities.
Knee Rear Leg Raises is a form of Pilates exercise that targets your abdominal muscles. Activation of core results in strong shoulders, back and hip that are the foundation of better balance and healthier back.
Knee Rear Leg Raise is performed by positioning your body on all four limbs with even distribution of weight between elbows and knees.
You can engage your core by extending your right leg back with pointed toes. Lift your leg while keeping it straight in a position that aligns your leg with your back.
Avoid raising your leg too high that might arch your back. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position and do the same with your other leg.
Pilates Exercise #2 – Leg Stretching
One of the exercises you can implement during a warm up routine is single straight leg stretch. Pilates focuses on your core strength and pelvis stability. Those are key elements of endurance and coordination.
Although single straight leg stretches are performed standing using a chair, you can also do it while sitting.
To do leg stretching in a chair, first sit down with your back straight up. Extend one leg up to a comfortable level. Then slowly put your leg down. Then the other leg. Do not lift too fast.
As you do so, make sure to breathe gently in and out. Focus on your breathing from your core gut. Imagine your breathing slowly going in and out as you lift your legs then put them down.
Continue this 10 times with one leg then repeat with the other one.
Pilates Exercise #3 – Planks
Planks are an all encompassing workout that require your arms, legs and abs. The Bent-Arm plank strengthens your back, chest, shoulders, and neck.
Hunchback is common in old age due to weak muscles of the back, Bent Arm Planks help develop isometric strength of core muscles that prevents hunchback posture.
Bent Arm Plank is performed by lying on your stomach with your elbows directly underneath your shoulder and forearm flat on the floor. Your legs should be straight resting behind you.
Squeeze your upper back, glutes and core by lifting your hip towards the ceiling. Hold your plank for 15 to 30 seconds and then rest.
Pilates Exercise #4 – Swimming Pose
The Swimming pose is a form of Pilates that engages your core muscles to strengthen your shoulder and back muscles.
This form of exercise is performed by lying flat on your stomach on the floor with your legs extended behind you. To keep your arms shoulder-width apart stretch your arms forward.
Activate your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button inwards to your spine while lifting your right arm and left leg off the floor. Like you are swimming on the floor.
For this form of exercise to be effective, lift your head and chest off the floor by keeping your neck neutral. Slowly lower your back down and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Pilates Exercise #5 – Bird Dog
Low back pain is common in old age due to decreased range of motion in the spine. Bird Dog is a form of Pilates exercise that encourages neutral spine, improves stability and relieves low back pain symptoms.
With focus on back muscles, this exercise increases range of motion and promotes good posture.
Start by staying on all four limbs. Keep your spine neutral, engage your core by lifting your left arm and extend your right leg until they align with the rest of your body.
Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower your leg and arm.
To make this exercise easier, only extend your leg while keeping your hands on the floor.
Finding the right exercise for seniors is important. Pilates for seniors is a great way to build core strength and is low impact.
Exercise and a healthy diet should also be a part of your daily routine to give you strength to perform all these forms of exercise.
Here’s to your health!