Pilates: 6 Health Benefits You Should Know About

Pilates has been around since the early 20th century, but it’s taken some time to earn itself the real credit it deserves. Although its contraptions can be off-putting and the studios might seem intimidating at first, there are definite reasons you, too, should be joining the Pilates revolution. From building muscle to improving your sex life, this exercise method has gained popular momentum for good reason. Whether you’re a seasoned Pilates pro, or you’ve yet to step foot in a studio, here are six health benefits of Pilates.

1. Pilates eases back pain

Woman doing pilates

Pilates can ease your back pain. | iStock.com

If you’re one of the 31 million Americans who experiences back pain, then you’ve probably tried everything under the sun to alleviate that sometimes excruciating, consistently frustrating, lumbar discomfort. If you’ve yet to give it a try, you’ll be pleased to hear that Pilates can aid in the easing of back pain. In fact, the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that just four weeks of Pilates proved more effective for those suffering with chronic lower back pain than those who visited a physician.

2. Pilates can improve cognitive functions

young woman is lying on the grass and thinking

Exercise keeps your brain healthy. | iStock.com/LittleBee80

As concentration is one of its guiding principles, it’s probably not that surprising to hear the cognitive benefits don’t end there. In one study that compared mice that had exercised versus those that hadn’t, research found that the ones that exercised had healthier brains and performed better on cognitive tests than those that hadn’t. Additionally, just as your body starts to decline at a certain age, so too does your brain, and many health professionals think exercise has the ability to slow or reverse that process.

3. Pilates can boost confidence levels

a couple working out

Have you ever felt like a million bucks after a workout? | iStock.com

Posture is an inherent part of Pilates, and having good posture could help in boosting your confidence levels. If you ever rolled your eyes whenever your parents or teachers would tell you to sit up straight, apologize. And if you yourself are a parent now, don’t shy away from explaining to your children the real reasons good posture is so important. Aside from the fact that being fit tends to actually make you feel better, too, the very positions that make the practice of Pilates what it is will often transfer into other aspects of your life. Because Pilates encourages good posture and proper body alignment, it stands to reason that the practice will also help you maintain a certain level of poise. As Pilates Bridge highlights a TED Talk in which social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses how the power posture boosts confidence levels.

4. Pilates improve flexibility

Fit women doing exercises stretching hamstrings lifting legs

Pilates will help you earn back or maintain your flexibility. | iStock.com/undrey

Because one of pilates’ core focuses is stretching, you’ll quickly realize the benefits and discover a more flexible self. Remember when you were a kid, and you thought nothing of bending like a pretzel and sitting on the floor in a straddle position? Well, as soon as that starts going downhill, you’re left with an unrecognizably tight, stiffer version of yourself. You’re constantly on the move, yes, but maintaining a limber body is so important, and finding time to stretch is key. Don’t assume that improved flexibility is just for those who have been practicing for years, either. Beginners will also reap the benefits of a more mobile body.

5. Pilates increases the mind-body connection

Pilates move

Your mind and body will become connected like never before. | iStock.com

Because the practice calls for you to fully engage in each movement with total intention, Pilates promotes a serious connection between mind and body, rather than simply improving one area over another. Joseph Pilates emphasized Pilates is about “the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.”

6. Pilates will help you develop a stronger core

Fitness female model torso with her hands on hips

Pilates will work your core. | iStock.com/jacoblund

Who doesn’t want the best set of abs he or she can achieve? Well, with Pilates, one of the practice’s six principles is centering, or a strengthening of The Powerhouse, which is described as the abdominal muscles, pelvis, buttock, and lower back. With a strong focus on particular moves that target just that, you could be seeing results in just five sessions, says Brooke Siler, owner of re:AB Pilates Studio.