There is great consensus regarding the fact that, in the elderly, exercise is a good alternative to alleviate and prevent ailments. And among the options in this regard, there is Pilates for older adults.
Pilates is a training method that is based on performing a series of anaerobic exercises, focusing on the quality of movements and attending to the principles of concentration, alignment, breathing, fluidity and precision.
His predecessor, Joseph Pilates, practiced this discipline until he was 80 years old. We can say that It is a type of physical activity suitable for older people that contributes to your overall well-being.
Pilates benefits for older adults
Pilates exercises for older adults are considered appropriate inasmuch as have no impact on the joints and they can be adapted to the capacities of each one.
On the other hand, they are easy to carry out, do not carry too many costs or involve the use of sophisticated equipment. And despite its simplicity, the benefits that Pilates provides for older adults are diverse. Let's see.
1. Circulation and blood pressure
As with many physical activities, Pilates activates blood flow, which in turn favors the transport of nutrients to the different tissues of the body.
It also helps keep blood pressure levels under control, which is extremely beneficial for those with high blood pressure and other heart-related diseases.
2. Breathing and oxygenation
One of the fundamental principles of Pilates is the control of the respiratory rhythm. With said method the capacity and activity of the lungs is improved, contributing to better oxygenation.
3. Muscle mass
In Pilates for older adults, specific muscle groups are worked. A) Yes, tone is strengthened, increasing strength levels and decreasing general weakness.
Thanks to this, it also helps to combat the sequelae of sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass associated with aging.
Osteoporosis is one of the pathologies most associated with older adults. It increases the risk of bone fractures because the bones are less dense than they could withstand common blows or trauma.
The investigations carried out in this regard confirm that Pilates exercises are effective in increasing this bone mineral density, as well as alleviating pain and improving the quality of life of women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.
The effectiveness of Pilates has also been investigated as part of the treatment of pain and disability in patients with knee osteoarthritis, compared to conventional therapeutic exercise.
In this sense, the results show that there is a significant improvement in terms of joint position, pain and functionality in patients who follow Pilates training.
Over the years, flexibility decreases, due to different factors. These are associated not only with age, but also with genetics, as well as sedentary lifestyles, which mean joint disuse and little muscle stimulation.
This, in turn, affects the performance of daily activities. However, Pilates for older adults also improves the aspect of flexibility, through stretching exercises for muscles and joints.
7. Prevention of falls
Although the muscular response to stimuli decreases with age, with exercise in general you can improve reaction speed. Similarly, Pilates for older adults includes movements for the core, which help with static and dynamic balance.
Both factors (reaction and equilibrium) are determining factors in stability. And by working on these aspects, as well as on muscle strength and joint flexibility, the frequency and impact of falls in older adults is reduced, which means less chance of fractures.
You can continue reading: What is the Pilates method?
8. Better posture
Pilates for older adults improves back alignment and elongation, which helps to become aware of the posture, to improve it and prevent sciatica or lumbago.
Maintaining an incorrect posture can aggravate ailments such as migraine headaches, as well as cause localized pain in the neck (cervicalgia) and other areas of the back.
9. Sedentary lifestyle, obesity and caloric expenditure
Most studies agree that there is a high correlation between old age, sedentary lifestyle and obesity. This, in turn, is associated with various risk factors and the development of pathologies typical of this age group.
Now, with physical activity, for example through Pilates for older adults, there is an increase in caloric expenditure, thereby combating overweight and its consequences.
10. Memory and cognitive functioning
In various investigations it has been established that good cerebral oxygenation is essential for the work of this organ. So the pilates too benefits overall cognitive functioning, as well as short and medium term memory.
11. Mood and self-esteem
In the case of older adults, sedentary lifestyle and inactivity affect self-esteem, increase anxiety and even the chances of suffering depression.
All this changes when we do physical activity, which allows us to relax and release tension. In addition, by feeling that we are not limited by age or ailments, our self-concept also improves.
Another important benefit associated with Pilates for older adults is that the person can interact and relate to others, whether they are the same age or younger. And socializing has a positive effect on mood and general well-being.
13. Sleep quality
In the elderly, the stages of sleep are usually altered. However, research suggests that performing low-impact exercises improves rest, fights insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
Pilates for older adults can be, then, a lower cost and more effective alternative to pharmacological treatments, which carry side effects.
With Pilates motor skills, attention and memory are improved, among other aspects of older adults that are vital to perform daily tasks. Therefore, their dependence on others is reduced.
Keep reading: Benefits of doing Pilates
Pilates exercises for older adults
There are different types of Pilates: flexibility, strengthening, balance. Some are exercises for beginners and others can be part of a routine for older adults. Let's take a closer look at some of them.
This is one of the fastest atrophying abilities due to lack of exercise, which can lead to reduced mobility, increasing the risk of injury. Among the Pilates exercises for flexibility we have the following:
Saw: the starting position is sitting on the floor, with the back straight. The arms and legs are opened, without flexing, and the chest is projected forward, bringing the right hand towards the left foot, and vice versa.
Cat: start on all fours on a mat; knees in line with hips and wrists slightly wider than shoulder width apart. You inhale and, when you exhale, the abdomen contracts, laying the back like cats when arching.
Spine stretch: seated, with the legs straight and the heels slightly apart, the arms in front without bending and the palms facing inwards. We bow slowly, as much as we can, keeping our heads between our shoulders.
2. Resistance and strengthening
These Pilates exercises for older adults allow to work on the variables of strength and resistance to counteract the loss of muscle tone:
Swan: Lying face down on a mat, arms bent, hands at shoulder level and palms facing the floor. The body is like drawing a Y. From that position we try to lift the torso, using force with the arms.
One Leg Circles: On your back, with your arms at your sides, raise one leg and make circles with the foot. If it is the right leg, the sense of the circumference should go to the left and vice versa.
Side kick: sideways, leaning on one shoulder. The arm underneath should be flexed at the elbow to aid balance. The upper leg is separated or raised, opening and closing like scissors. Then you switch sides and work with the other leg.
In these exercises, as the name implies, balance and equilibrium are worked on. Let's see the most representative of this group:
Seal: sitting on a mat, with bent knees and joined heels. The hands are placed under the ankles to help lift the feet and the weight is dropped backwards. Then you return to the starting position.
Four: you start standing up, looking straight ahead. We lift one foot and the leg is flexed to place the sole towards the calf. The hands are on the chest at first, but then the arms are extended in a cross.
Pilates for older adults is beneficial
In the pilates for older adults exercises can be modified as needed. And as you progress in the control of strength or balance, others can be incorporated, as long as the body allows it.
This physical modality has hardly any contraindications. However, it is not enough to get a medical check-up before starting the training. And of course, it is advisable to look for professional instructors, especially those who have experience working with older adults.
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