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The Magic Workout That Tones Your Body, Improves Anxiety, and Relieves Pain

Anything that involves moving, getting your heart rate up, and stretching, toning, or strengthening your muscles is likely good for your body. But there are some workouts that offer so much more than toned muscles—one being Pilates.

"Pilates is a form of body conditioning that focuses on balancing the body through a series of specific, alignment-focused exercises," explains Erika Bloom, founder of Erika

new york fitness "Each exercise incorporates both e

ccentric and concentric engagements with focus on the small, intrinsic, postural muscles and the deep core."Pilates Ring

 

The exercise was created in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates and can be done on a mat or a machine called the reformer. It's important to note that one method isn't better than the other. "You may see changes faster using the reformer. However, when doing mat Pilates, you have to control your body more, so sometimes that might be a little harder for some," says Claudia Martin, founder of Claudia Martin Studio and Mama Be Studio. "The main difference between the two is that reformer adds resistance, and on the mat, you use your own body weight. Both are truly effective."

There are so many extra benefits aside from muscle toning and strengthening. Not only can Pilates transform your body, but it can also help your mind with stress and anxiety relief. Take a look at some of the benefits below.

 

1. Lengthens Your Body

 
Benefits of Pilates: lengthens the body

Bloom says that the movements create length and mobility for your body. "It is a full-body method with a strong emphasis on initiating all movement from the core," adds Hot Pilates founder and creator Shannon Nadj.

2. Improves Your PostureBenefits of pilates: Improves your Posture

This is crucial for a lot of people, especially if you spend most of your days sitting at a desk. Your posture can suffer, which could cause some back problems or pain later on. "It educates the body to work in a way that is healthy and functional," explains Bloom. "By doing this, it improves posture, alignment, and tone."

3. Tones Your BodyBenefits of pilates: Tones your body

 

Of course, since it's a workout, you'll be able to tone your body through this exercise. But if you want to see results, it's recommended to practice a couple of times a week. "I say at least three days a week," suggests Martin. "However, it is safe to do every day as long as you can change up the routine."

 

4. Focuses on Particular Muscles

 

After doing Pilates for the first time, you might have activated muscles you didn't even know existed on your body. That might mean some soreness, but it's probably the good kind where you know you worked hard, right? "It targets every muscle in the body while teaching them to work together in a functional, efficient way," Bloom says. "One thing that makes it unique is its focus on the deep muscles of the core including the deep back muscles and its focus on the small supporting muscles of the joints."

The core is key here, meaning you'll be targeting your abs, lower back, hips, and butt, adds Martin.

 

5. Helps You Manage Stress and AnxietyBenefits of pilates: relieves stress and anxiety

 

For a lot of people, working out is a form of stress relief, so it's no surprise that Pilates can help your mind as well. "The deep focus on how your body feels and moves creates a mind-body connection that is truly effective for managing stress and anxiety," explains Bloom.

 

6. Keeps Your Mind FocusedAmazonBasics Pilates Ring

You might have a million thoughts racing through your mind at one time, which can feel overwhelming, so it's nice to discover new ways to quiet and calm your brain. "Pilates is a mind-body workout, so during your session, your mind is busy thinking about your movements and breath, which makes you focus on your practice so there's no room to think about anything else," Martin explains. "Also, you leave feeling happier because of the endorphins that are released during your workout."

 

After reading this list, you might feel inspired to try your first class. Like any new workout, it may take some time getting used to, so cut yourself some slack if you are struggling, find it challenging, or are feeling self-conscious or awkward.

Martin recommends wearing formfitting clothes (which can help the instructor see your form and correct if needed) and grippy socks. She also suggests bringing water and a towel. And tying up your hair, especially if you're taking a reformer class because hair can get caught in the springs.

"Understand that Pilates is a practice, no one is perfect, listen to your body, and do what you can," she says. "Never feel discouraged. The instructor is there to help, so always let them know if you have any injuries. This will help them know when to modify for you. Lastly, listen to the instructions. It makes a huge difference when the exercises are done correctly. Breathe and have fun!"

Readmire: The 5 Workouts Every Woman Over 50 Should Do, According to a Kinesiologist

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