Despite the widespread popularity of Pilates as an exercise discipline, some experts still doubt its functionality as a main source of health benefits and weight loss. However, doctors agree that when combined with a general lifestyle regimen, the century-old practice can help increase flexibility, muscular control, endurance and quality of life.
Here are a few ways to supplement your daily Pilates session to improve your shape and well-being.
Light and Vitamin-Rich Eating Habits
Pilates sessions do not burn a lot of calories. Unlike dieting around a hiking hobby or intense workouts at the gym, practitioners do not need – or want – a high-protein, high-caloric diet.
Instead, try dining on vitamin-rich, low-carb foods such as fish, chicken and vegetables. When eating out, look for restaurants which serve smaller portions of vitamin-rich and low-fat entrees. Leave the intense snacking to traditional bodybuilders, and choose meals that fit your preferred workout.
Skeptics are wary of the “spiritual” side of Pilates. But even for true believers, the best results in improving your mental health and state of mind occur when combining your exercise routine with relaxing, meditational hobbies and a low-key daily routine.
For instance, put those noisy indie rock albums away and listen to Mozart and Bach, which research has shown to help listeners relax mind and body. When shopping, steer clear of a busy mall or a packed subway – give yourself space to relax in solitude, and if possible, visit one non-crowded retailer at a time.
Like Acupuncture and other alternative health strategies, aromatherapy has its share of detractors, who often lump essential oils in with “mystical” or religious practices. However, context is everything!
Putting a dab of your favorite scent under your nose, then embarking on an overly-hectic work or parenting day probably won’t do much good for your blood pressure or breathing. Instead, try following up an invigorating Pilates or Yoga session with a hot bath scented with Clary Sage or Rosemary.
Studies show that even if the effects are purely psychological, a relaxed mind can equal a relaxed body – and help you look forward to another rewarding workout the next day.
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Similar to yoga and many martial arts, Pilates offers a graduated step-ladder of exercises for beginner, intermediate, and advanced practitioners. Classes are a great way to progress, but what if you don’t have the time and budget to invest? Never fear! Many free online tutorials are available to help you keep things interesting. The more you learn, the less effort the exercises will take – so no need to worry that you’ll knock yourself out. Happy climbing!