Six Pack Anyone? No Thanks
Getting a six-pack, running a marathon or doing an IronMan/IronWoman contest are some of the things that are not on our list.
Staying active, climbing the stairs, enjoying a walk, going for a swim, getting up easily from a chair; these are the things that make everyday life run more smoothly and enjoyably. We want to stay active and involved and to do that we need to keep moving.
Sitting, is it a Problem?
Jason tells us that we spend about 9 hours every day sitting! Is that possible? He goes on to advise us about the benefits of exercise.
Although we are busy all day long, we are busy doing things that involve sitting. Luckily, he gives us some ideas about how we can become more active.
We can also use exercise videos for some short bursts of 10 or 15 minutes of exercise during the day.
It will take time for these changes to become a habit and they will seem strange at first. In addition to these healthy habits he also reminds us about our 30 minutes of exercise a day and our eventual aim of 10,000 steps a day.
Muscle and Flexibility
If we want to maintain a reasonable level of fitness and activity we need to work on it every day, perhaps in short bursts, even 10 minutes three times a day, keeping a bit of muscle and flexibility, keeping a strong core.
The benefits of maintaining muscle and flexibility are that we can be protected from back problems, shoulder problems, neck problems and from falls and injuries.
Mood and Confidence
Also exercising and staying active improves our mood and confidence, improves our chances of recovery if we do have an accident or injury.
It’s all about where we are starting from. Some of us may have been exercising and keeping fit all our lives while some of us may have had fairly sedentary jobs and haven’t been active in our everyday lives.
I have recently discovered the Feldenkrais method which is a movement system I had never heard of before. Also, Pilates, Yoga and T’ai Chi are very good for any age group.
Darcy Bussel’s Pilates for Life videos are an inspiration. She presents the Pilates program so beautifully and makes it accessible for everyone.
Beth from Trifecta Pilates gives us a standing pilates workout, working on balance, strength and flexibility. We are allowed to use a chair for support and this is a great routine for beginners, especially those of us who are a bit more mature!
Beth is a great teacher, easy to listen to and follow. She explains that there have been times when she couldn’t get down to the floor or it was painful to lie on her back.
Many of us will be able to identify with back problems and this is a routine that will help.
The person who started the Pilates system in the 20th century has an inspiring story.
Once again it is the story of how someone has had to overcome early difficulties and this has given him the strength of character and determination to go on and improve the lives of millions of people.
Is Pilates Right for Us?
We need to find out about Pilates before we can decide if it will benefit us.
Pilates is a Greek name. It is the name of the person who started this exercise and fitness system, Joseph Pilates (pill at ez).
This system is relatively new, having been started in the early part of the twentieth century. Some other exercise systems like Yoga and T’ai Chi have been in use for centuries.
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. He had a Greek father who had settled in Germany. As a child he had various health problems, asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever.
He was determined to improve his health using natural methods and eventually developed his own exercise system which we now know by his surname, Pilates. Joseph said, ‘It will give you suppleness, natural grace and skill.’
Joseph spent some years in England at the beginning of the twentieth century. As a German national he was interned by the British during the First World War.
During this period of internment he continued to work on his movement system by taking care of his fellow prisoners, many of whom had very serious illnesses and injuries.
After the war, Joseph returned to Germany before emigrating to America and settling in New York, with his wife Clara, in 1925.
Joseph started teaching his new movement system in New York. Professional dancers in the city soon got to know him and his unique exercise system which helped them to improve their strength, flexibility, stamina and posture.
Over the next forty years until his death in 1967 the Pilates system became more and more popular. Our interest in health and fitness has continued to increase and now the Pilates system has spread all over the world.
Pilates has practical benefits in everyday life. It improves balance, reducing the risk of falling and making us more agile.
We can build up endurance and stamina which increases our energy levels. People who have a tendency towards back problems often find Pilates very helpful.
One of the main benefits is improved posture. All the exercises promote proper skeletal alignment and strengthens the muscles which are responsible for good posture.
As a result, we can move more freely, breathe more easily and avoid health problems associated with bad posture, such as, poor blood circulation, back aches, neck pain, a tight chest, slipped discs and other back problems.
Many people will go to a Pilates studio and learn from a specialist teacher. If this choice is not available to us it is still possible to gain the benefits of the Pilates method by practising at home.
However, without a teacher on hand to guide us through the flowing movements we need to take extra care to have good form.
Getting Started With Pilates
Beth helps us to get started with Day 1 of her Pilates for Beginners course with a clear and careful demonstration and explanation. She starts by teaching us about a ‘neutral spine’.
She quotes Joseph Pilates to give us some inspiration;
‘Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any successful endeavour.’
Strengthen the Deep Muscles
We need to practise every day and give ourselves time to learn the movements carefully.
In the long run we will begin to see great improvements as these exercises begin to strengthen the deep muscles in the abdomen, lower back and pelvic floor and provide stability.
Now that we’ve got all that inspiration we need to put it into practise. We can’t rely on motivation to inspire us. It needs to be part of our daily to-do list like brushing our teeth and taking a shower.
It is important to start easily and gradually build up our strength and stamina.
Ian Manning , who is an OrthoCore Physical Therapist, www.orthocorept.com discusses how Pilates reformer exercises can help decrease lower back pain.
Dawn shows us a review of how to set up and use a Pilates table at home. She shows storage, set up and use of IQ with “library wheels”.
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