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Matters of the Heart: Pilates and Heart Health

January 30, 2020

Does your heart race just thinking about your next Pilates session? Have you already fallen head over heels in love with Hug-a-Tree and Hamstring Pull? February is American Heart Health Month, so let’s talk about your ticker and how Pilates helps keep it healthy.

Many sources say that the key to heart disease prevention lies in aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming—activities that keep your heart rate elevated for a prolonged period of time. While Pilates was not designed to be an aerobic activity, it acts as a supplement to aerobic exercises by fortifying the anatomical frameworks that aerobic exercises depend on to be injury-free. In other words, Pilates combines strength and flexibility training, along with balance and coordination training, to strengthen the structures that support healthy bones and joints so you can enjoy aerobic activities for the long-term.

All that said, some Pilates classes do utilize the jumpboard and different types of interval training to infuse aerobic elements into the session. Some of the more advanced work may have aerobic properties, as well.

In addition, the emphasis on deep, rhythmic breathing and smooth flow of controlled movements elicit a natural calming effect. The de-stressing benefits of Pilates aid in decreasing blood pressure—an important component to heart health. The practice of breath helps improve circulation, which is important for heart function. In fact, Joseph Pilates once said, “True heart control follows correct breathing which simultaneously reduces heart strain, purifies the blood, and develops the lungs.” He has also said, “The exercises will stir your sluggish circulation into action by discharging accumulated fatigue through the bloodstream. Your brain clears and your will power begins to function.”

Moral of the story: Heart health, and overall health, require a comprehensive approach. Diet, activity, and rest are all contributing factors to a healthy and happy life. Even though Pilates may not be considered a traditional aerobic activity, it’s still a fun and invigorating supplement to a healthy lifestyle. And it’s oh-so-lovable!

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