Healthy and Active Ageing with Pilates by Geri Taylor, APMA Education Committee Member
Hi everyone. Each month I will bring you some information about a topic relevant to the Pilates community. This month it is a topic that I am most interested in, as I am 73 years old, have been teaching movement for 40 years, Pilates for 20 years, and want to keep teaching for another 20. With the help of Pilates of course.
From the moment we are born we begin aging. It’s a fact of life. At each stage of life our bodies go through physiological and psychological changes, and have different requirements to stay strong, flexible and active. And at every age, Pilates can play an important role in healthy active aging.
Ageing is the process of becoming older, and can refer to single cells which have stopped dividing, or to the population of a species. In humans, aging represents the accumulation of changes over time.
Ageing is among the greatest known risk factors for most human diseases. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day , about two thirds die from age-related causes. Healthy aging is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value for their lifetime.
The best thing about being in your 20’s and 30’s is that your body is so strong you can get away with abusing it. The bad thing is that you often do. This is the time to make a lifelong commitment to exercise. Make fitness a part of everyday life.
The discipline and concentration required by Pilates can help people in this age group establish sound exercise habits, make movement more efficient, provide great cross training for other sports, and prevent injuries.
Along with Pilates, weight-bearing cardio activities are crucial to build and maintain strong bones. The jumpboard is a perfect way to achieve this in the studio. Longer workouts help build endurance and burn fat, but if lack of time gets in the way go for interval training.
For women interested in starting a family Pilates is an excellent prenatal workout.
Exercising the core muscles and pelvic floor can help develop the strengthneeded for pregnancy. And Pilates exercises can be modified as the body changes, both before and after the birth.
These are the decades of the triple whammy: gravity, hormones, and slowing of metabolism, as lean muscle mass decreases and body fat increases. Fitting exercise into a hectic schedule is harder than ever. This is the time to develop exercise habits that will contribute to quality of life in the future.
Injuries and illnesses often strike at this time, and Pilates is an excellent way to stay fit and active while preparing or recovering from surgery or disease.
For women approaching menopause (and men approaching andropause) the resistance training provided by Pilates apparatus helps preserve strength for everyday activities, stave off muscle and bone loss, and help maintain a healthy weight. And the stretching components of Pilates helps sustain flexibility and range of motion.
Weight-bearing cardio activities are important at this age for bone health, and to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Alternate high-impact exercises such as running and tennis, with low-impact activities like aqua aerobics and cycling to lessen wear and tear on the joints.
The primary focus of exercise at this time is to maintain enough strength and flexibility to perform daily activities safely and easily. Strong shoulders and hip joints will help with everyday tasks and a strong core and lower body will help with balance and bone density.
It is important to have functional strength, as well as strength reserves to help resist degenerative diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Building core strength through Pilates can help protect the back, hips, knees and other joints, prevent falls, and improve posture.
In the 60’s and beyond the body stiffens up, because of a more sedentary lifestyle, bad habits, arthritis and repetitive movements. Stretching with Pilates can help with basic tasks, and keep the body flexible enough for more strenuous activities such as golf and dancing.
Osteopenia and osteoporosis are concerns for this age group. Many of the traditional Pilates exercises are not suitable at this time, as they put pressure on the vertebrae which are susceptible to fracture. A modified program which focusses on spinal stability, leg and hip strength, and resistance work for the arms, is effective.
While cardio activities are still important, exercises that put less pressure on the joints are suggested, such as walking and cycling. Exercising in a group or with friends helps to make these activities safer and more enjoyable.
As Pilates teachers it is our responsibility to know and understand our clients, their issues, strengths and restrictions. Then we can program their Pilates classes so they can get a great workout, appropriate for their age and physical condition. It must be challenging enough to keep them strong and flexible, safe, so we do no harm, with variety and new exercises to stimulate the mind, and enjoyable so they keep coming back for more.
Next month look for the latest information about Fascia and how it relates to Pilates. If you have a topic that you would like to know more about, email me. firstname.lastname@example.org