Our bodies undergo several changes as we age, which seems to be very pronounced in women. That is why as women approach menopause, many different lifestyle and health developments, some of which may not be palatable.
Many women experience symptoms that make everyday life somewhat more difficult and stressful. The symptoms are mostly due to the transitional changes associated with menopause.
The bone density and muscle mass of a woman undergoing menopause are also greatly affected. And all of these changes, if left unchecked, might lead to more physical changes like obesity and wrinkles.
Notwithstanding, it is possible to tackle menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms with many methods, one of which is practicing Pilates exercises.
Most aging women often feel left behind as regards physical fitness and exercises, but with Pilates, menopausal women can tackle their symptoms and ensure a very fit and healthy lifestyle.
Pilates is an exercise method associated with gentle coordinated movements usually taught in professional classes.
Although Pilates routines are regarded as “soft and gentle,” its health benefits are unfounded, and exercise routines greatly help aging women.
Using gravity for resistance, you could use a mat, a reformer, or any flat surface to perform Pilates. You could also use sophisticated equipment like flat bedlike machines, lagree megaformers, spring-loaded chairs, etc.
Why is Pilates good for women in menopause?
Also called Contrology, Pilates is one of the most effective 21st-century exercise-like routines that helps to condition the body and mind.
Pilates is said to begin with mind control over the body, and it helps give individuals a special type of coordination and mental concentration. Menopausal women with mind and body issues will benefit greatly from this exercise.
Pilates improves your flexibility, or range of movement, and helps with back pain and other health benefits. You should always perform Pilates exercises regularly to enjoy its full benefits.
Below are the top 10 benefits menopausal women might get from Pilates.
- Loss of weight in menopausal women.
One of the major hurdles of menopause is the excessive addition of weight, making many menopausal women obese or overweight.
Although there are various methods of treating or tackling obesity, not all are effective. Some methods of losing weight are also considered too expensive.
However, with exercise routines such as Pilates, menopausal women can say goodbye to their accumulated belly fat. There is no magic at all, and though sometimes it might not be 100% effective, it still does the trick.
Based on a recent study, women who did Pilates for 4 weeks straight consistently recorded reduced belly fat and overall weight. One thing worth noting regarding weight loss is the idea of consistency.
If you’re consistently involved in a Pilates exercise routine, you will experience very great changes in your overall weight. Discipline is always the key to weight loss because activities might not be as expected. Losing weight is very key to the entire health of menopausal women with self-esteem issues.
- Pilates helps create strong muscles in menopause and ensures women stay fit.
Pilates is important for menopausal women because it helps create strong muscles in the appropriate areas.
The routines in Pilates might not be as hectic as the gym, yet it helps shape a woman’s body even more, giving her functional fitness to perform tasks.
One of the major issues of menopausal symptoms is reduced self-esteem, especially among women who live in environments not conducive to one’s mental health. Also, women in menopause have several obligations that must be attended to and must be built to cope.
With steady rhythmic eccentric contractions, Pilates can strengthen the necessary muscles without much fuss. These important contractions are possible because muscles contract under tension when movements against gravity are made.
For instance, during the controlled session of release on a Pilates field, the triceps muscles push upwards in a way that aids in strengthening your muscle mass.
According to a recent study on menopausal women, Pilates has effectively strengthened the upper and lower body’s muscle and abdominal mass of menopausal and postmenopausal women.
So, no doubt, having weekly Pilates sessions will greatly improve the quality of life of a menopausal woman concerning her muscle mass and strength.
- Pilates integrates the body and mind of menopausal women.
Most of the physical symptoms women face in menopause are disharmony between the woman’s body and mind.
For instance, in menopause, many women find it difficult to balance things. Some menopausal women find themselves a bit clumsy and begin to trip over things. They may yet show other signs of disrupting the body’s balancing faculty.
Well, you can help reduce these issues with Pilates exercise. Pilates is known to also help you find better overall body balance and physical stability.
Usually, workouts and modern-day exercises focus on showing strength and leave out the importance of proper breathing. When breathing is efficient, movements are also efficient, without much friction.
Some Pilates exercises enable you to breathe properly by helping you open your diaphragm and somehow enable you to focus on your deep abdominal muscles.
In case you’re wondering, a human’s breathing is connected to the mind and what Pilates does is that it increases your mental focus on your intended outcome. With this mind control and mind conditioning, Pilates helps train your mind to condition your entire physical body.
Your workout routines are usually targeted towards the goals to be achieved with the help of precisely coordinated breathing exercises. That also means that your workout routine targets your intended goal, your mind’s awareness, and even optimism.
- Pilates improves your posture.
Poor posture affects menopausal women in more ways than can be accounted for – from low self-esteem to regular fatigue and weakness.
Also, poor posture can lead to so many structural changes as a woman ages. These pains will now go ahead to cause body pains in different parts of the body.
It may also further add pressure on joints and muscles. This pressure often leads to constant body pains, headaches, and muscle fatigue.
For instance, the head will bear twice its normal weight if tilted forward by 20⁰. The person might experience intense pain and difficulties until this is corrected.
Postural adjustments like this can help brighten a person’s life. With Pilates, you can help in cases like that. Pilates teaches you to move more efficiently by teaching you how to align your posture and enable swift movements.
Usually, your core strength is the focus. Once this is developed, the rest of your body will be able to relax as the practice will remove the pressure from the other parts of your body that can be affected by stress or injury.
After you experience the improvements in your body alignments and balance, you’ll notice that it will greatly boost your confidence. You can now begin to carry yourself with the glorious gait and radiance you need.
- Pilates Improves focus for menopausal women.
Most menopausal women sometimes experience a symptom known as “brain fog.” This health symptom is greatly characterized by forgetfulness, loss of focus, and inability to concentrate, think clearly, or come up with logical conclusions at the beginning.
Brain fog has been a major hurdle as menopausal women are tasked with job or family obligations.
Either way, no one wants to be unable to complete simple tasks at work or find it difficult to put your kids in order because you cannot concentrate. Well, with Pilates, you can control these symptoms by improving your focus.
Pilates is mostly an exercise, but more than exercising, it helps condition your mind. So, not only are you exercising, but you’re also giving your mind a chance to focus on the exercise.
Concentration and immense focus are required to get the most out of Pilates exercise. Your instructor will direct you to synchronize your body movements with your breath, which helps boost your focus on the exercise. This focus is translated into every other aspect of your life.
- Pilates helps relieve stress.
One of the major hurdles of menopause is the constant stress women face. The ever-worsening stress is built up from stressors ranging from hormonal factors to jobs and even to family.
The menopausal symptoms themselves even stress some women. So many methods have been put in place to quell stress, but most people have their peculiarities, and some people remain stressed even after some methods.
However, one method that stood out is Pilates exercise in menopause. Pilates has a similar approach to yoga in dealing with stress, but its complete coordination of the body, mind, and spirit is top-notch.
It is said that, with each movement, the body and mind synchronize to ensure that every possible health benefit is utilized from the exercise. Also, the rhythmic breathing and movements help calm the mind and give a soothing feel by creating an atmosphere of relaxation.
Pilates exercise is said to operate mainly on stress relief principles which include centering, concentration, precision control, flow, and breath to help integrate the body and mind to enhance calmness and stress relief.
- Pilates helps get better sleep and tackles insomnia symptoms.
Menopausal women are known to experience sleeplessness constantly. This inability to get sleep is mostly due to stress and restlessness. It often leads to body aches, headaches, and other symptoms.
Sleep is so important that a lack of sleep can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Insomnia could also affect a woman’s concentration at work and her general mental health. Many people have had grave mental issues because of a lack of sleep.
Nevertheless, research has shown that Pilates is very effective in enhancing sleep. By relaxing the mind, Pilates helps improve the general sleep quality of menopausal women.
Sleeplessness is mostly due to mental restlessness; although your body is tired, your mind is very much awake. And if you cannot calm your mind at the time, you’d be unable to sleep.
Although other factors contribute to insomnia, like hormonal factors and similar reasons, a person unable to focus mentally might find it very hard to sleep. Pilates helps to calm the mind by relieving any feeling of nervousness or restlessness throughout the body.
Also, fatigue from working out can make you sleep better, as you’d be tired, and your body will genuinely need rest. Even if the exercise doesn’t wear you out, certain spine-specific Pilates routines help to relax nerves and cleanse the body and mind. With these, you should no doubt have a better sleep time.
- Pilates improves strength and flexibility.
During and after menopause, women are often diagnosed with loss of muscle strength and flexibility, leading to various musculoskeletal disorders.
These are mainly due to the hormonal fluctuations that affect the accumulation of muscles and the addition of weight and other needed body changes. However, Pilates exercises help to strengthen a woman’s muscles even when she has reached menopause.
Pilates helps strengthen and stabilize core muscles with a high precision emphasizing neutral postural alignment. This stability enhances mobility in the distal region, balance, and control of the entire body, improving the woman’s daily function.
Like yoga, Pilates routines involve gentle bending and stretching that help improve the range and degree of motion while your muscle is coordinated and strengthened.
Coordinated stretching and strengthening of muscles enhance flexibility, joint movements, and proper body coordination. The improved coordination and flexibility also enhance balance, giving the woman an ideal posture.
Pilates helps coordinate body alignments, too, making it easier to perform different full-range motions with ease and flexibility.
- It reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
During menopause, many women begin to develop fragile bones with low density, a condition known as osteoporosis.
If left unchecked, the woman begins to experience severe back pains, reduced height, sometimes even fractures, and loss of balance or inability to walk.
Osteoporosis is one of the many dangerous conditions that can be linked with menopause. However, although there are drugs and many treatment procedures for osteoporosis, you can treat it early and avoid the risk with Pilates exercise.
These exercises help to strengthen core skeletal muscles. The skeletal muscles, in turn, support the spine and enhance movement for people who find it difficult to move around. Breath awareness and coordination also enhance balance for people with osteoporosis.
Certain Pilates exercises involve movements of body parts against the force of gravity. And this technique helps to increase the bone density of that particular body part.
Also, it is not news that Pilates helps to improve balance. This feature is very useful to others who find it difficult to walk or even stand well as it prevents falls that can further cause bone damage.
With the help of Pilates, the range of motion and posture of women with osteoporosis are greatly improved, thereby enhancing the alignment of bones. It prevents muscle spasms and pinching of nerves that cause immense pain.
- Pilates exercises boost energy.
One of the major problems faced by menopausal women is low energy output. The low energy they experience is usually due to energy-draining physical vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes, emotional issues, fatigue, etc.
This low energy output affects every aspect of a woman’s life. Although various lifestyle coping strategies and medications can help boost energy, Pilates routines stand out.
Pilates helps elevate energy by improving blood circulation, helps transfer glucose all around the body, and speeds up energy reading metabolism.
Also, Pilates can help in improving the body’s breathing processes positively. The aura of the Pilates groove itself is energetic because you’d meet many aspiring and motivated individuals. Talk about the state of your mind boosting your therapy.
Moreso, the alignment of the spine, as well as other body movements, helps you release endorphins. Endorphins are regarded as the “feel-good” hormones that enhance a person’s possibilities and overall energy.
The energy-boosting effect of pilates exercise is usually long-lasting since your muscles are strengthened and calories are burned. It also makes your body feel good all around (thanks to that aligned spine, strong core, and added flexibility!), which can add extra pep to your step.
One of the reasons is that every time you exercise, your body releases endorphins, the natural ‘feel-good’ hormones. Overall, Pilates helps to improve one’s health even in menopause.
What are some of the best Pilates exercises you can perform?
We’ve talked about the positive effects of Pilates for menopausal women, and of course, it cannot be overemphasized.
Now let’s go through some Pilates exercises that we recommend for women during menopause.
- Rolling Up
Rolling up involves navigating the vertebrae by stretching your hands upwards while you lie on a platform. It helps strengthen the abdominal muscle for movement during menopause.
- Intention Setting
This technique is usually a routine used to warm up. It helps to calibrate the mind by bringing your attention to the exercise and enhancing mind stability.
- Rolling Over
Very similar to rolling up but here, the focus is the flexion of the spine. Usually for individuals without issues in their neck or back.
Hendred is a cardio exercise while lying flat, with your face facing upwards. It helps safely elevate the heart rate and aids abdominal muscle contraction.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Pilates good for only menopausal women?
Pilates is a very good exercise pattern and technique recommended for everyone. Regardless of body size, age, or gender, everyone can and should practice Pilates.
The exercises in Pilates routines are beneficial in many ways, which we’ve listed above. And although this article is for menopausal women, many of the benefits above apply to young women, middle-aged women, and men.
- Which equipment do I need to do Pilates exercises?
Most exercises you’d perform in a Pilates session are bodyweight exercises. So, you won’t need any special equipment to perform Pilates routines. With just a yoga mat, you can achieve a lot of Pilates workouts.
However, for some extra moves or to increase functionality, you can add some pieces of workout equipment. Some of these include ankle weights for ankle lifting exercises, a Pilates ball, a foam roller, or other useful but not very necessary equipment.
Another piece of equipment that is popular for Pilates is the Reformer. This equipment is more of a machine than a tool and uses sets of springs and pulleys to increase the resistance you have to work against in the fitness routines to give better workout results.
- What’s the difference between Pilates and Yoga exercises?
Pilates is very similar in technique and style to yoga. Both exercises use more of the body’s weight than gym equipment. And also, both exercises are low-impact exercises.
However, Pilates is different from yoga because it has much more intense sessions. You might also get quicker results from doing Pilates exercises than from yoga.
Another difference is that yoga involves you holding up a position that is adopted, and then you try to flow smoothly into the next position, whereas in Pilates, while holding up a position, you would aim to move your extremities and other body parts, trying to work out your core.
Menopause is that stage of a woman’s life that marks a milestone that you’ve attained a good age and is a great feat.
But it just comes with too many unfavorable effects on the woman’s body, lifestyle, and health. And the average menopausal woman has to seek ways to manage the body changes in menopause.
There are many approaches a menopausal woman can take to find relief from her menopausal symptoms. And as expected, some work better than others; some even have fewer risks than others.
When it comes to exercising the body, Pilates is your best option. We can also regard it as the best exercise pattern recommended for a woman during her menopause.
Pilates is also greatly beneficial to perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. And don’t think the exercise is narrowed down to only women around menopause – even males and much younger women have a lot to benefit from Pilates.
So, why not get your floor mat and other necessary equipment, maybe get some Pilates coach and start exercising!