Pilates for Mobility, Strength, & Flexibility

Pilates for Seniors: Mobility

Pilates is an excellent way to improve mobility and range of motion in the joints, especially for seniors. Whether they are new to the method or maintaining active lifestyles, seniors can greatly benefit from the functional conditioning of Pilates. The ability to move freely with ease and combat poor habits, such as excessive sitting, standing, or repetitive movements, are essential to maintaining quality of life. Optimal mobility is not just about stretching, but rather a balance of strength and flexibility. Balance is essential for increased mobility, which is necessary for everyday activities like walking, getting out of bed, and getting up and down out of a chair.

Featured Classes for Mobility

Pilates for Strength

Pilates is an effective form of exercise that fights against the natural decline in muscle mass and strength that comes with aging. Maintaining or boosting strength with age has a number of benefits, including improved balance, enhanced muscle mass, and increased bone density. All these factors contribute to a senior's quality of life and the ability to continue performing everyday activities independently.

In addition to more energy and enhanced mood, building strength through Pilates also aids in managing blood pressure and blood sugar. A study from the National Institutes of Health has shown that strength building in older adults improves motivation and confidence. Furthermore, the Pilates principle of concentration facilitates a deep connection between the body and mind that fosters mental acuity.

Pilates is widely known for building a strong core and when exercises are performed correctly, it can be a full-body workout. The method creates strength and connection in the legs, feet, core, and glutes, which is important for standing and walking upright, getting up from a seat unassisted, and building confidence for continued independence. A "weak core" can make the body susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and difficulty balancing. Pilates is one of the best ways to build strength for a better quality of life, increased independence, improved confidence, and enjoyment in everyday activities.

Pilates for Flexibility

Regardless of age, a healthy body is one that ideally balances mobility, strength, and flexibility. Practicing Pilates and improving flexibility not only boosts seniors' confidence and vitality, but also enables them to participate in daily activities without the fear of falling or injury.

Strength on its own is not sufficient enough to meet life’s requirements of twisting, turning, reaching, bending, carrying, and getting up and down. Strength alone can leave you immobile, stiff, and prone to injury. In comparison, flexibility adds ease and suppleness to any movement — qualities desired more and more as we age.

Pilates exercises contain the ideal formula for improving flexibility due to the method's connection to breath and precise, slow, and controlled movements. Pilates is not a static workout, but rather the flow of exercises tone smaller muscle groups and develop longer, leaner muscles. In general, Pilates is a combination of active and passive stretching. Active stretching is known to provide more feedback in changing the length and strength of a muscle. This concept can be applied and felt throughout the Pilates repertoire, resulting in improved flexibility.

Pilates Exercises for Strength

Pilates is great for building strength in the body because it targets smaller and deeper muscle groups that support joints, as well as larger muscle groups.

The mind-body connection found in Pilates fosters a sense of "inner strength", as movements originate from the breath, thus developing a strong core. A well-developed core consists of deep abdominal engagement in conjunction with the muscles of the back. Core strength stabilizes your back, helps to improve posture, and serves as the basis for cultivating greater strength in the hips, hamstrings, and upper body. Adrianne Crawford’s Strength from the Inside Out Mat class builds on foundational Pilates exercises to develop the strength, mobility, and balance needed for everyday activities.

Squat

Squats improve mobility and strength in the hips, knees, and ankles by supporting the body in a deep bend. For more of a challenge, try holding the squat for 3-5 seconds.

Arm Circles with Hand Weights

Improve your stability and mobility with Hand Weights by exercising your arms and shoulders in wide ranges of motion.

Pilates Exercises for Flexibility

Pilates exercises combine static and dynamic stretching to lengthen the muscle fibers while building strength to improve overall flexibility.

Pilates is one of the most efficient ways to improve flexibility, thanks to its combination of deliberate and controlled movements. The flexibility achieved through Pilates empowers older adults by balancing strength, mobility, and stability. Unlike other modalities that hold static stretches, Pilates emphasizes a steady, controlled flow of movement, seamlessly transitioning from one exercise to the next. Pilates exercises integrate both static and dynamic stretching techniques to elongate and strengthen the muscle fibers, resulting in greater range of motion. Combined with strength and stability, expanded range of motion lowers the risks of fall and injury.

Shoulder Stretch

With the help of a Theraband, this exercise stretches the shoulders, arms, and chest by moving through your full range of motion.

Calf Stretch

Improve your ankle and foot mobility with this calf stretch exercise. For a deeper stretch, hold the position for a longer period of time.

Ankle Mobility with Theraband

This seated Theraband exercise stretches the ankles and calves to improve ankle and foot mobility. Repeat on each side.

Hip Stretch

Improve your ability to get up and down from a seated position by stretching the deep muscles of your hips.

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