Pilates is a nearly century-old exercise programme with roots in healing and rehabilitation. Created by Joseph Pilates, this series of workouts helped his fellow detainees at an internment camp on the Isle of Man gain muscle strength.
It is a mind-body practise that matches breath to movement, similar to yoga, but it is also quite useful, allowing you to focus your attention on the present moment and connect with your body.
Pilates is a perfect exercise for seniors since it is low-intensity, low-impact, and inclusive. The exercises are designed to develop deep postural muscles, increase awareness of how you stand, and improve hip, spine, and head alignment supporting your musculoskeletal system which is important to be taken care of as we age.
Here are some easy Pilates exercises that you can do at the comfort of your home:
- Glute bridge
This exercise simultaneously strengthens your lower back and extends your lower spine.
Consider your spine to be a pearl necklace; to lift it up, bone by bone, bend your pelvis and press up with your bottom until your body is in a straight line at the top.
Then, ribcage first, clenching your glutes until you’ve planted your pelvis, melt back down. These are best done right after you wake up, while your spine is still relaxed and pliable.
- Hip twists
Lie flat on your back with your arms outstretched and palms down.
Bring your legs into the table top and stabilise your core.
Keep your back as flat as possible while twisting your hips to one side, then the other, while keeping your knees together.
- Thoracic lifts
They’re great for strengthening your upper and middle back and can help you reverse the effects of contemporary living.
Face down on the floor, one hand on top of the other, with your forehead resting on your hands. As you inhale, stretch your head away from your feet and come into a low hover with your feet together. To get back down, exhale.
To use as many muscles as possible and support your lumbar spine, try sliding your shoulder blades down to your back pockets and opening your collarbones as you lift.
- Toe taps
Toe taps are a simple but efficient way to engage your pelvic floor.
Take a deep inhale and gradually bring one leg at a time to a table top position (90 degree angle) while lying on your back, focusing on activating your pelvic floor and puling your belly button towards your spine.
Rep each leg 10 times.
It’s never too late to begin a Pilates practise, regardless of your age, fitness level, or talent. Pilates works with people where they are and helps them gain strength, confidence, and mobility. It also generates feel-good endorphins, which raise your energy levels and help you perform better.
Of course, you should always see a doctor before beginning any exercise programme, and if you have any existing health concerns, you should work one-on-one or in a specialised class with a qualified instructor.