Modern life is stressful. Indeed, stress is a major contributing factor to many modern diseases and illnesses such as diabetes and a high blood pressure. Stress is known as the silent killer for good reason. Exercise can be a crucial component in the fight against stress and the harmful effects it can have on both mind and body.
So what exactly is stress? In a nutshell it is the reaction of the body to change; that is any change requiring a response or adjustment physically, emotionally or mentally.
Stress can affect our mental, physical or emotional health. Whilst there are times when stress is beneficial in ensuring that you are alert and able to identify potential dangers and threats, more often it is negative.
The negative effects of stress occur when those challenges and changes are virtually constant and without a break or relief in between them. When this occurs tension builds up resulting in stomach problems, raised blood pressure, poor sleep patterns, headaches and even chest pains. Left untreated the symptoms can worsen and more serious health issues may occur.
Pilates is the perfect exercise regime for relieving stress and preventing further physical, emotional or health problems.
So what makes Pilates so perfect for stress relief?
Breathing: a key feature of Pilates. Deep and mindful breathing is crucial. Breathing should be deep so that all air is expelled; a cleansing breath. Not only is the breathing taught in Pilates designed to cleanse but by building awareness of breathing it develops a sense of calmness and helps release tension.
Posture: the exercises in Pilates are designed to strengthen and tone muscles from the center to the limbs. The purpose is to develop strength, alignment and a poised, lifted and balanced body. This will help reduce pain and tension.
Sleep: breathing, body control and alignment improve by following the exercises regularly. Sleep quality will improve as a result.
Endorphins: these beneficial hormones are released when you exercise; they create positive feelings and aid relaxation.
Relaxation: through the emphasis on control, of both mind and body, the controlling and releasing of the muscles during sessions helps relax the body and mind. The emphasis on breathing also helps increase the sense of relaxation.
Focus: this is a key feature of Pilates. Throughout the exercises it is essential to retain focus on breathing and movement. Whilst focusing on performing the movements and breathing it is not possible for other worries to prey on your mind.
Pilates is the perfect exercise regime to relieve stress as it is holistic. It benefits the mind and body through the emphasis on breathing and control. The breathing techniques developed through Pilates can be used outside of the exercise class whenever situations seem to be overwhelming you. Regular exercise sessions will keep your mind and body healthy which in turn will help you to handle stressful situations in a more positive manner.