Pilates: Benefits Of Daily Reformer And Mat Exercises!
Once you have experienced a good Pilates session, whether, on the mat or Reformer, you’ll be hooked on it. The after-session sensation that it brings is just very different compared to other exercises you can do in the gym and regular fitness centers. That feeling of tallness, inner strength, improved flexibility, toned-abs, and soreness on the inner muscles that you don’t know existed is very addictive that you want to do the session again the next day.
Reformer Pilates exercises can be done daily. In fact, Pilates methodology that was originally founded by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s is low impact, and low repetition type of workout was designed to be done every day to improve your breathing, concentration, alignment, coordination, the flow of movement, and centering.
We know that doing daily exercises is good for us. According to an article from the International Journey of Physical Education, Sports, and Health,
“Exercise not only makes you physically fitter but also improves your overall health and a general sense of well-being. Daily exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, boost happy chemicals, improve self-confidence, increase brainpower, sharpen memory, and increase our muscles and bones strength. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. A minimum of 30 minutes a day can allow you to enjoy these benefits.”
Now that we know the benefits of doing regular exercises let us look at the added benefits of doing Pilates Mat and Reformer exercises daily.
Improve posture alignment
Our posture is greatly influenced by what we do regularly. That means that if you are sitting down hunching on your computer desk the majority of your time, the more your posture will hunch as well. So, if you want to correct your posture, doing a few exercise sessions a week may not be enough to establish a deeper correction.
Doing daily Pilates exercises will boost the correction of your posture as it will correct imbalances and strengthen the inner muscles of your joints and spine to make them stronger in a good alignment.
The Pilates Reformer machine will give you better feedback on how to hold your body alignment better which will help you actively correct your posture as you do the exercises.
Learn more exercises
Since you have more time to do your exercises, you will have more chances of learning new movements which will be an added benefit to your basic routine. The pilates method offers a wide range of exercises that you can do and each movement works differently on your body, so working on more variety of exercises will allow you to aim to more specific goals that you cannot achieve with lesser frequency sessions.
Polish your basics and develop a stronger foundation
“Perfect practice results in perfect movement”
Most people think of exercise as just an exercise rather than a skill to develop and practice. But this is far from the truth, especially with the Pilates methodology. The effectiveness of Pilates exercises depends on the quality of how you do the movements.
In fact, the more experience I have become, the harder the basic movements felt. This doesn’t mean that I got weaker, but instead, I am able to access more of the smaller muscles of my body, engage them more; thus it feels harder. This makes the movement even more beneficial to practice.
There has been always a debate against daily core workouts especially in the gym setting where you’re doing hundreds of crunches and a variety of abdominal exercises all the way up to exhaustion. Here is an article from Livestrong where they discuss how you can approach daily core exercises.
Isolated abdominal exercises, in general, are not advisable to do daily as the same as any muscle in your body; your abs need a break. On the other hand, your core muscles are designed to work perpetually in conjunction with the rest of the body. Otherwise, you will not be able to hold an upright position.
Pilates exercises, though it is well known for their effectiveness in strengthening the core, don’t isolate the abdominal muscles as much, compared to common core strengthening movement. Most of the Pilates movements will employ the whole body to work together as one unit which is more functional and can be effectively done daily.
Prevents injuries and improve low back pain
Pilates exercises are done slowly and with full awareness of the movement. This makes the method very effective in preventing injuries as you are moving mindfully all the time. You will be able to move your body in better form and will transfer well into other forms of exercise or to your daily activities.
According to this study done by G. Maccagnano for the European Journal of physical and rehabilitation medicine, that there is a significant improvement of pain, disability, and physical and psychological perception of health in individuals who did the daily sessions of pilates.
Better body awareness
One of the main reasons I choose Pilates exercise as my base routine for sports and more demanding routine is how it can effectively develop my awareness. The slow and precise nature of the practice, coupled with the breathing, works really well to help me concentrate on my exercises.
This gives me a very good foundation to push further in my exploration to advanced bodyweight training like learning handstands as I can control my legs and pelvis better, even when upside down.
Decrease stress with breathwork
Focusing on the deep breathing work incorporated with the Pilates exercises works very well in reducing our stress. It releases the tension that you are unconsciously holding throughout the day.
Breathing has a big role in reducing stress; according to this article by Bruce Cryer, Rollin McCraty, and Doc Childre, on “Pull the Plug on Stress”, simply taking several slow, deep breaths can quickly diminish the feeling of stress.
Here is an article I wrote about Pilates breathing.
Either you get tighter or more flexible on a daily basis. If you stretch or you’re moving your body in various ranges, then you are getting more flexible. If you are staying on your office chair or slumped on the sofa for hours, then you are on your way to becoming tighter.
Unfortunately, flexibility will be an ongoing battle, especially as we grow older, and doing daily Pilates exercises will help you work on your flexibility.
Better symmetry and balance
Pilates exercises on the Reformer are great to correct asymmetry in strength and alignment. The machine is designed to give you feedback if you are exerting more effort on one side. The shoulder pads, the straps, and the foot bar of the Pilates Reformer, coupled with slow and controlled movement, will force you to concentrate on evenly working the muscles in multiple directions.
You don’t have to be perfectly symmetrical with your entire body, but you cannot allow a significant imbalance between the front and back muscles or between your left or right sides. Slight imbalances overall are normal, but if you leave this out of control, it can cause one side to work too hard to compensate for the imbalance.
Enhance performance in sports and daily activities
Pilates exercises target the small stabilizer muscles of the body, which is seldom worked in high-intensity exercises. Most sports practices or even our daily activities will require us to use bigger muscle groups which is not a bad thing in general, but it will leave the smaller muscle groups left out.
Working these smaller muscles will stabilize the joints and will make you more efficient and balance when doing more demanding work. This would fill the gap between performing well and performing at your best.
Doing a single session in Pilates will offer you more than just a core strength workout. It also works on relaxing and elongating your muscles and correcting imbalances which will make you rest better at night.
Pilates is a great exercise to do daily, but if you are new to Pilates, it might be a good idea to seek out guidance from an experience Pilates teacher to give you a well-balanced program. It is a good exercise on its own, but it will also be good to complement it with some bodyweight training exercises to have a more holistic approach to your training.