Pilates for the over 50’s
“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young”. Joseph Pilates
I attend a class for myself every week which challenges me. I thoroughly enjoy that time to practice and notice improvements. Not a great surprise. That is Pilates! But when I talk to others and they ask who else is in this class, I answer that I am the youngest there by at least 13 years.
These women have attended this class for years and have made huge differences to their bodies and their lives; still full of energy and up for a challenge! Yes, many have conditions or injuries which prevent them from doing everything, but they are given adaptations and carry on when they can. That is where I aim to be 20 years plus from now!
I see clients who are over 50, walking into my classes in Kingston for a variety of reasons which include building strength, reducing back pain, helping to lose weight and improving coordination and balance. Using the Pilates principles, clients will learn body awareness, how to breathe effectively and how to protect your body when doing large movements, such as picking up a heavy weight, like the dog! All things which help keep them active for longer.
But what makes Pilates so good for the over 50’s?
The Physical Benefits of Pilates for the over 50's
Pilates will build strength in the core muscles of the body which are intrinsic to remaining active - the legs, abdominals, arms, hips and back.
During every class run by an experienced, well trained and fully qualified teacher, each of these muscle groups will be worked, with modifications given for those that need it. This means that week on week, these muscles will be stronger, thus allowing them to be challenged more!
Pilates really is for anyone, no matter what your fitness level.
I have a client in her 70’s who had never attended an exercise class in her life before being told to try Pilates by her consultant to help her chronic back pain.
She had stopped walking far and was reliant on painkillers. She is now a committed student who enjoys coming every week and notices the difference when she doesn’t make it or we have a break.
She is more active, enjoys walks with the dog and doesn’t rely on pills to get through the day. So it really doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done before in terms of exercise, Pilates is accessible for all.
Pilates also helps build bone health. Osteoporosis is a condition which affects 3 million of us in the UK, affecting more women than men (Royal Osteoporosis Society). Exercise that increases muscle strength and maintains bone strength is recommended for the over 50’s in an effort to prevent Osteoporosis.
Weight bearing exercises with impact as well as muscle strengthening are advised as the most effective ways to increase bone health, both of which are included in a well planned Pilates class. Include some jumping, skipping, dancing, light jogging in your week and you really are doing the best you can for your bones, as well as keeping you fit and energised!
The Mind and Body Connection.
Pilates teaches us the link between the two.
It is not merely about performing strengthening and lengthening exercises without thought. In Pilates, whether you are 50 plus or a child, you need to actively use your mind as you move your body to effectively perform the exercises and to feel the benefits.
This requires your full concentration which in turn allows your mind a break from the ‘busy-ness’ of life as well as making us more in tune with our body.
As we reach the age of 50 and beyond, our posture can change and often for the worse. As Pilates is working internally, from the core, those muscles which keep us upright will be strengthened, in addition to body awareness, thus leading us to walk taller, and in turn, helping to break bad habits and prevent problems further down the line.
And how much more confident do we look when we are walking tall?
With your body awareness honed, you may find you notice where you hold tension and stress physically. Recognising this will give you a chance to make changes. By fixing the physical stress, you can release the mental stress.
You will also feel more energised and flexible after practicing Pilates meaning that you are more likely to enjoy the things that need to be done - such as gardening, playing with the grandchildren or getting to the pool for some swimming.
A Pilates class every week will also get you meeting new people. A new community is created within each class and I have seen friendships form which then extend to outside of the class. Not something to be sniffed at.
Pilates for the over 50’s gives you a sense of accomplishment and a boost of self esteem. Week on week the progress is visible.
Whatever your age, if you commit to the practice, you will feel improvements not only in class, but in your everyday life. Go on, give it a go!