Improve Your Heart Health with PilatesOct 17, 2021
Cardio exercise usually comes to mind when we think of strengthening our hearts but did you know that Pilates is ideal for improving and maintaining heart health? Whether you are looking for a way to lower high blood pressure, have heart disease, or just want to future-proof your heart against these conditions, Pilates is the ideal form of exercise to assist with this.
Why is Heart Health so Important?
Everyone knows how important the heart is for pumping blood around our bodies to supply oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues and remove waste products.
The heart is a muscular organ, made up largely of cardiac muscle. It is also traditionally thought to be the seat of emotions. Shakespeare made many references to the heart in his plays, particularly in reference to romantic love. "Did my heart love til now? Forswear it sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night," from Romeo & Juliet for example. Princess Diana said, "Only do what your heart tells you." We now know that the brain plays a large role in romantic love, but our heart health is definitely impacted by negativity and stress in our lives. Sadly we've all heard of someone who has died from a "broken heart." There is no doubt the stress hormones released during traumatic or stressful events can lead to high blood pressure and an increased heart rate resulting in serious heart issues over time. The opposite is also true and a positive mindset can help prevent heart issues and also improve existing ones, so there is a lot to be said for maintaining a positive mindset. You can read more about the research to support this and learn exactly how to practice a positive mindset yourself HERE. I highly recommend you try it, it's incredibly powerful!
What is Cardio Exercise?
Cardio or aerobic exercise is any type of exercise that increases your heart rate and then keeps it elevated for a specific period of time. This type of exercise provides many benefits as it promotes weight loss which can reduce high blood pressure. It can also help to lower "bad" cholesterol levels and increase "good" cholesterol. By making your heart work harder, you are increasing its strength. Living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease so it really does come down to "use it or lose it." Walking at a pace fast enough to increase your heart rate for 20 or 30 minutes 3 or 4 times per week is a simple and effective way to include cardio exercise in your daily life. Before you begin an exercise program you should get clearance from your medical practitioner that it is appropriate for you. Depending on your fitness level and individual preferences, running, cycling and swimming are just a few more examples of great ways to incorporate cardio exercise into your life.
How does Pilates Assist with Heart Health?
JS Mind Body Pilates my online studio provides many benefits for heart health and it also helps to prepare you for your favourite type of cardio exercise. Pilates provides you with the tools you need to develop a strong core including the abdominal muscles and glutes which is essential for preventing injury while doing cardio exercise. Many people with good intentions launch straight into running or walking long distances for example with no preparation. They are hoping to experience amazing health benefits but instead, find themselves injured and unable to exercise at all. Pilates can prevent injury and ensure you have the strength and flexibility to make your cardio exercise as safe and effective as possible. As each exercise has a conscious breathing pattern, the mind-body connection in Pilates is ideal for reducing mental stress and improving your overall sense of well-being and calm. This is vital for protecting your heart from harmful stress hormones. Lateral or diaphragmatic breathing not only promotes relaxation but also helps to mobilise the rib cage which assists the lungs and heart to work more efficiently. One of the functions of the ribcage is to protect the lungs and heart from injury with a bony casing, but ribs that are tight and rigid are too restrictive for these organs. Many of the movements in Pilates work on creating a good balance of strength and flexibility in this often neglected area of the body and is highly beneficial for heart health. Pilates also improves circulation, balance, coordination, posture and improves body awareness. One of my personal favourites is that I can tailor a Pilates program to meet such a variety of personal needs. Whether you are someone recovering from a heart attack or an elite athlete who has just been diagnosed with a heart condition, I can design a Pilates program specifically for your individual needs to get you back to where you want to be.
Joyce's Pilates Journey
After 3 years of Pilates training with me, Joyce was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia and began taking medication to stabilise her heart rate and reduce the pressure. Now in her early 70s, she previously experienced a lot of trauma in her life when she lost her young son to cancer and then also dealt with a painful divorce. She had always made a conscious effort to take care of her health but she believes the grief she has experienced has contributed to her heart condition. With the approval of her cardiologist, she has continued her Pilates training with me and we have modified her Pilates program to further support her heart health. She notices that when she misses a Pilates session she feels more agitated with a slight shortness of breath and becomes more fatigued. Her short 20 - 30 min Pilates sessions help keeps her mentally focussed, energised and breathing comfortably and deeply. She has also added short walks of 10 minutes 3 times per week and she will gradually work on increasing this. Joyce told me she is so grateful that she was already trained in Pilates when she received her diagnosis and is delighted it can play such a major role in managing her heart health. It's so rewarding for me to see the amazing benefits that Joyce is experiencing with her Pilates training that will keep supporting her into the future.
If you want to be part of my unique Pilates community and improve your heart health click HERE to read about what options I have to offer you. Alternatively, email me at [email protected] - I'd love to help you start your Pilates journey and take control of your own health and fitness!
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Learn more about what sort of people benefit from Pilates and how it can help you too. I separate the myths from the facts and share actual case studies of my clients who have achieved life-changing results from my unique Pilates program.