Pilates over 50 | the perfect exercise for middle age

Why Pilates is the perfect exercise when you’re over 50 

Congratulations! If you’ve celebrated your 50thbirthday and you’re in good health it’s definitely worth lighting a few candles, staying up late and generally partying. Mid-life is also a time when we realise that we can’t take good health for granted. You have to nurture your body a bit more. If you want to stay active and make the most of your life, you may have to work a little to build muscle strength and maintain flexibility.  

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A strong body is empowering

Many people dread getting older. But there’s no reason why you can’t feel good about yourself as the years roll on. It’s often the time when you know what you want. You don’t have to prove anything to anybody. And feeling healthy and strong feels good.

What are the health benefits of Pilates for the over 50s? 

Both men and women can benefit from taking up Pilates regularly. And here’s why … Pilates:

  • Lowers your blood pressure and helps to improve circulation

  • Increases your flexibility – by gently stretching your muscles, you increase flexibility in your joints, tendons and ligaments; you move more easily and without pain

  • Supports your spine and helps prevent back injury

  • Helps to strengthen your core muscles, essential for stability, strength and balance

  • Pilates is a great body-mind routine – it focuses on your breathing; it’s gentle yet challenging at the same time

  • It’s a whole-body exercise routine - Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates Method, created ‘Contrology’. He described this as “the conscious control of all muscular movements in the body.” 

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Pilates is one of the best exercises for helping you in daily life – carrying groceries, lifting grandkids – just getting around. I could add that it will improve your love life too, but I don’t have the statistics to prove it!

It’s not a competition

Pilates is all about exercising at the right pace for you. With the correct guidance, you can do Pilates safely so that you’ll achieve all the benefits, without the risk of injury or strain. And it doesn’t require you to invest in any expensive equipment or fancy gym gear.

At Active Pilates, we supply everything you need to get you started. After 7+ years of teaching Pilates, I’ve seen amazing changes in people who come to my small-group classes. I’ll also admit to being ‘fit and fifty’ myself. So, I know exactly how you feel. I reckon life gets better after 50 – and it’s never too late to start. 

So - let’s get started!

Is sitting the new smoking? We reveal the truth behind the claim 

You may have heard the saying ‘sitting is the new smoking’. It feels like every day, there’s something else we need to worry about when it comes to our health. But is it true? Can sitting for long periods of time adversely affect your health? And is a sedentary lifestyle as bad as smoking? 

The short answer is ‘no’. 

According to University of South Australia epidemiologist Dr Terry Boyle, "The simple fact is, smoking is one of the greatest public health disasters of the past century. Sitting is not, and you can't really compare the two. Unlike smoking, sitting is neither an addiction nor a danger to others."

Yes, sitting for more than 8 hours a day can increase the risk of premature death and some chronic diseases by as much as 10 to 20%. But smoking remains a much more severe health risk. 

If you smoke, you’re increasing your risk of dying early by about 180%!

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Why is keeping your body moving is so good for you?

So, now we’ve established that the sensationalist claim - ‘sitting is the new smoking’ - is an exaggeration, let’s stop and think about it. A lack of activity, let’s call it exercise, is still a serious risk to your quality of life. Your body was built to move. Back in time, before we were all chained to our computers or spent hours watching Netflix, our ancestors were constantly moving. 

Finding, growing and preparing food. Building shelter and caring for family. It’s only in more recent times that we find ourselves doing jobs where we sit for hours at a time. 

4 reasons why you need to keep moving

Regular exercise has so many benefits. 

  1. It simply makes us feel better. 

  2. It’s also essential for our mental health. 

  3. Exercise helps prevent chronic diseases like Diabetes 2, heart disease and even cancer. 

  4. Strong muscles help prevent injury and falls, particular in older people.

  5. For adults, just 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous-intensity physical activity a week can make all the difference. Doing muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days a week is also recommended by the Australian Department of Health

Pilates helps counter the problems caused by sitting too much

For many people, sitting for long periods of time is hard to avoid. If you work in any sort of office, it’s just part of the job. Pilates is the perfect exercise to support your body, even when you’re sitting for many hours a day. By strengthening your core muscles and improving your posture, you can minimise the harm. 

I recommend you also speak to your Pilates instructor about exercises you can do at your desk to help alleviate tension in tight muscles. Here are just a couple: 

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Neck Stretch- There’s nothing like a simple neck stretch to help relieve tight muscles and prevent headaches. You can do this stretch while you sit or stand. Looking straight ahead, tilt your head so that your ear moves towards your shoulder. Move your hand on top of your head and gently apply a bit of pressure. This should help relieve tension in your neck. Do one side, then the other. 

Shoulder exercise– We often hold a lot of tension in our shoulders when we sit for extended periods of time. You can do this exercise sitting or standing. First, engage your core. Then simply rotate your shoulders in comfortable, slow circles – forward, up, down and back – 5 times. Then move your shoulders in opposite circles – back, down, forward and up.    

Let’s get moving!

As a Pilates instructor, I love helping people feel good. Being able to move freely, without pain is such a joy. Join me at my Pilates class and let’s getting moving together!