I love Pilates.
I teach on average 5 classes a week.
I feel strong, flexible (ish) and mobile. My pelvic floor is pretty good too.
But just doing Pilates not enough for long term health.
OK, before you run away screaming, hear me out:
Pilates is fantastic! Regular practice can help build an inner foundation of strength that allows us to lift, bend, throw, catch, hit, run… you get the idea, more safely and effectively.
So, why is it not enough?
Pilates is one part of a well balanced workout routine. Just the same as I love running, but I wouldn’t recommend just pounding the pavement.
Nor is just lifting weights (and this one is SO important as we get older). Or just yoga, or swimming…
What I’m trying to say is: as with most things in life, we need variety. When it comes to exercise, we need a mix of strength/resistance work (lifting heavy stuff), cardiovascular exercise (the huff and puff stuff) as well as flexibility and mobility movement.
Let’s have a look at each element and what the benefit of each is:
Lifting heavy stuff
Myth buster: ladies, you will NOT end up looking like Arnie. We just don’t have the hormones needed to look like a body builder.
What you WILL get is:
- muscle mass (great for metabolism)
- better bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis (read more about that here)
- better posture
- a amazing feeling of your own strength and ability to do things for yourself as you age. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to carry my own groceries, lift a grandchild (this one is waaaay off in the future)
- wrist and grip strength – a key longevity marker
Most of us can lift a lot more than we think we can, but I would recommend seeking the advise of a fitness professional before embarking on a new strength routine.
Getting out of breath
You may have heard the government guideline of doing 150 minutes of strenuous exercise each week. This is to optimise heart health and increase our endurance for longer events like a hike, run, playing sport etc.
It is the kind of exercise that gets you out of breath – you should be able to say a few words, but not sing. It’s super important for our heart health (ladies – this is key after menopause as our risk of heart disease sky rockets at this time. More about that another time).
I can hear you groan “I hate running” or “I don’t like to get sweaty”. That’s OK – there are plenty of options – put on some music and dance, go for a swim or hop on a bike. Getting sweaty and out of breath is part of the fun, and one of those things you might just have to put up with for the sake of your heart health.
Mobility and flexibility – putting the ahhhh into movement
Are these not the same thing?
No, they aren’t. Mobility is the ability to move your body in all the directions it is designed to move in. Think twisting, reaching, lunging to the side. All the movements you might make when you’re in the kitchen and have to reach for a pot to your side, or put the winter sheets to the top of the cupboard as the weather warms up.
Flexibility is about touching your toes or linking your hands behind your back. If you’re a “floppy” aka too flexible you need to strengthen your muscles to help support your joints. If on the other hand you’re totally inflexible, this can lead to injury if you have to make a sudden move outside of your movement capability.
Neither extreme is ideal but there is a lot we can do to move towards a middle ground.
This is where Pilates comes in – regular practice can help build inner strength and support so that you can twist, turn, reach and stretch with confidence and less risk of injury.
Yoga is also great here – especially if you’re quite stiff, it can help you loosen up.
OK, this might all sound like a lot to fit into a week, but remember: every little bit counts.
An example routine could look like this:
- Pilates once a week
- strength session 2 x week
- 4 – 5 x 20 – 30 minutes of cardio exercise
Exercise needs to be a part of every day. Start small, start at a level you can manage and build it up.
Seek professional help and guidance and have fun!
As a personal trainer, Pilates and Barre instructor of 17 years as well as being a menopause coach, I am happy to have a chat to help you get started or boost your current routine.
Click here to book a 15 min consult with me