Menopause and Pilates
During the process of menopause, your body experiences a marked decline in the level of estrogen which circulates throughout your body. The result? Mood swings, depression, irritability, sexual issues, sleep disturbances, those dreaded hot flashes, and weight gain, to name a few.
However, women who are menopausal and postmenopausal also experience a number of physical changes including the loss of muscle strength and flexibility. Diminished flexibility and muscle strength can lead to an increased risk for falls and fall-related injuries. In addition, several studies have shown that postmenopausal women are more apt to become sedentary and much less active, which, in turn, is associated with a deterioration in their health and quality of life.
Can Pilates exercises help postmenopausal women regain strength and flexibility as well as reduce menopausal symptoms? A research group at the School of Global Sports Studies at Korea University conducted an 8 week study of 74 women, ages 45-60, to determine the answer to that question.
Pilates can help
The program used in the study was adopted from Pilates Academy International and was modified according to the capabilities of the participants. Analysis of the data taken during the 8 weeks of the study showed a significant improvement in lower back strength and hamstring flexibility as a well as a decrease in a number of physical as well as psychological symptoms of menopause of the women in the Pilates exercise group vs. those in the group that didn’t do Pilates.
The Pilates exercises were found to improve muscle strength and flexibility by gradually reinforcing the muscles, cartilage, and connective tissue in the upper body. Pilates was also found to help stabilize and strengthen the lumbar muscles by focusing on strengthening the core muscles — those deep, internal muscles of your abdomen and back. Strengthening your core muscles will help to better support the spine and aid in movement.
Not only did the study demonstrate the physical benefits of Pilates on postmenopausal women, but it also showed that Pilates can improve “mental fitness” as well. Pilates is a mind-body experience encouraging you to focus on the physical movements as you’re performing them. By stressing proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and concentrating on a smooth, flowing movement, Pilates help to reduce stress and improve relaxation.
Increase your strength and flexibility
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can really help you to feel better as your transition through menopause into the postmenopausal phase of life. Pilates can be a great menopausal and postmenopausal exercise regimen because, even though it’s low-impact, it helps to increase flexibility and balance as well as improve muscle strength and tone.
At Propel Pilates and Fitness, located in Rancho Bernardo, every session is a full body workout. Our expert trainers can modify the exercises and intensity to provide a low-impact, but challenging workout for anyone from beginner to advanced.
We offer a great selection of classes, either private sessions or small groups classes for every fitness level. Visit our website to check out our class schedule.