Pilates Positives for Menopause Health
As the new year approaches many of us will be making resolutions or commitments to moving more and dedicating time to our health & fitness. Pilates is not just for January, it’s for life!
My own love of pilates began in 1999 with a class at my local leisure centre. I was totally hooked by the slow steady flow & intricate thoughtful movements, I have loved pilates ever since.
Pilates can offer midlife women a wealth of health benefits muscles strength & tone, flexibility & emotional wellbeing. Pilates is genuinely available to everyone whatever level of fitness you are. Whether you are joining an online or in person class, a mat class, reformer session or investing in 1-2-1 pilates personal training – pilates practice will transform your midlife body & mind…
Pilates improves bone & joint health
Protecting our bone strength & structure is fundamental for preventing osteoporosis (reduced bone strength & health). Reduced oestrogen levels, particularly post menopause, impacts bone density leading to bones become thinner and more likely to break. Pilates exercises involve the push & pull of muscles on our bones that provides the stimulation needed for bone growth & strength. Adding in resistance bands, pilates balls or hand weights to your practice all helps to maintain or improve our bones
Pilates can also be modified of anyone who has osteoporosis so there is a reduced pressure on the bones, particularly neck upper back & lower back areas, for safe & effective exercise.
For many of at midlife & beyond joint pain & stiffness can prevent us not only enjoying daily life but stops us exercising. Reduced oestrogen impacts our joint health, with less lubrication leading to pain & stiffness. The less we move the stiffer & less mobile we become, which can create more joint pain. Mobility & flexibility (joints moving well with a good range of movement) are key aspects of pilates practice. Pilates is controlled steady & flowing, which not only helps to keep joints safe but also promotes an ‘oiling’ of joints, promoting mobility & flexibility. Hips, lower back wrists & knees can suffer most at midlife & pilates pays particular attention to all these areas.
Pilates improves our posture
My absolute favourite aspect of pilates is how it can improve our posture. Learning to be more upright in a world that rounds us forward (desk jobs, driving, tv, phones..) is a big bonus! In our menopause years (anywhere from 35 onwards) life can become overwhelming at times which can impact our posture too. Round shouldered speeding through our day without coming up for a slow, steady breath. Pilates works wonders here! I have worked with lots of women over the years using the pilates method & breath practice specifically for posture, seeing improvements in everyone.
Pilates exercises help open the front body (chest / shoulders) & strengthen our back body (shoulders, back, glutes, thighs) as well as working to achieve a balance of strength & flexibility throughout the entire body.
Once we become aware of our own posture we can add the principles into everyday life. Improved posture can have a positive impact on many aspects of our midlife health, including pelvic floor & core strength too…
Pilates for Core
We all love a ‘core’ focus. When we discuss ‘core strength’ we are talking about abdominals, pelvic floor back & glutes too. At all stages of the menopause reduction of oestrogen & fluctuating hormonal levels, stress & sustained postures all play a role in decreased pelvic floor health.
Pilates breath focus, particularly ‘360’ or thoracic breathing ( breathing wide & full into our mid back area) as well as many of the pilates exercises, create a balance of strength & flexibility in our pelvic floor, helping improve our pelvic floor health.
Pilates focuses on abdominal strength through pelvic stability (keeping our backs & hips still whilst we move). Many pilates moves require a combination of glutes, abdominals, back & pelvic floor engagement, which is the foundation of our ‘core’ focus, all helping to create strength & tone around our middles.
Pilates for brain power
Struggling to finish a sentence, forgotten what you came up stairs for, finding it hard to concentrate on the Netflix movie plot! We’ve all been there. Brain fog can impact all aspects of midlife health, at work & at home. Research shows that mindful movement has the dual benefits of soothing the mind as well as exercising our bodies. In pilates while we connect & concentrate on our bodies we can begin to feel calmer, reducing anxiety and even depression. We are also training our brains to become stronger & more intelligent! Pilates moves often work with opposites, right arm left leg for example, this helps stimulate the brains neuron connections which in turn helps the brain become more efficient! More of that please!
Pilates works wonders for our balance
Many pilates moves require an element of balance, whether in standing or on the mat. As we age we lose our balance skills and this can lead to trips and falls as well as making us fearful of daily activities. Pilates practice improves our co-ordination through rhythmical, repetitive moves, which in turn helps improve our balance.
Pilates & confidence
In my 22 years of teaching pilates, in class & 1- 2- 1 training, I have loved, seeing women’s confidence grow. Building strength, improving posture & balance all help towards women’s confidence, especially at midlife. But for me it’s a renewed interest & love of the woman’s own body, the joy when a particular move is executed well or when getting up from the mat all seems easier, this is what I love to see and why I will always be Pilates’ biggest advocate, especially for women at midlife.
If you would like to start your own pilates journey pop along to Tuesday’s 8am Your Time Pilates class on www.harleystathome.com I would love to meet you x
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