Pilates equipment

The Mental Health Benefits of Pilates

For decades, doctors have encouraged people to exercise for increased physical and mental benefits, so much so, that we may know that doctors say exercise is good, but we may not know why. Just like you wouldn’t take any prescribed medication without understanding why you need it and how it will benefit you, you may also wonder why doctors recommend exercise and exactly how it benefits you personally.

When it comes to mental health benefits, exercising on Pilates equipment, such as a reformer from Frame Fitness, offers increased positive outcomes. While you may see the physical benefits of using a Pilates reformer, this post focuses on the many mental health benefits you gain by consistently exercising on Pilates equipment.

Mental Health Impacts Your Physical Health

While the physical outcomes of exercising, especially on a Pilates reformer, may be easy to see, from losing weight and increased strength and mobility to reduced aches and pains like tech neck, some of the most important benefits are more difficult to detect. Your mental health drives much of you what you do. In fact, your mental health greatly impacts your overall well-being.

From risking heart attacks and strokes to chronic diseases and harmful behaviors, your mental health plays an immense role in your physical health. However, you discuss aspects of mental health in abstract terms, such as motivation, body awareness, and general feelings, but measuring mental health outcomes can be more difficult than physical ones. You can’t put a tape measure around your mental health or put it on a scale, so many people ignore how exercising can benefit their minds and bodies together.

Thanks to endorphins and other wonderful, naturally produced chemicals after exercise, you can feel the measurable difference. Exercise enhances your well-being, those feelings of an elevated mood and feeling of connection; the empowerment you feel to cope with the changes in life both good and bad; the feelings of control over your life; and the freedom to choose what works best for you. Those feelings factor into your well-being, which impacts your overall mental health.

The connection of exercise to mental health is powerful. You can get that mental boost immediately, even from a short 10-minute workout. You don’t have to wait for mental health results from working out like you do physical benefits because you begin to feel them right away. With consistent activity on a Pilates reformer, you get the best of both worlds. You gain mobility, strength, stamina, and flexibility that can affect your everyday life, but you also gain a host of mental health benefits. Both the mental and physical benefits can continue to build the longer you use your Pilates equipment.

Mental Health Boosts from Practicing Pilates

Not all exercise is created equal. Pilates exercises offer a unique approach to fitness that knit the mind and body together into a powerful connection. While physical activity of all kinds may produce mental health benefits, you may see greater benefits from practicing Pilates.

Pilates uses a mind-body connection as you perform each movement. As you process the instructions and cues, you learn to influence your body’s physical responses. This component of Pilates creates intense mental benefits because the mind-body connection leverages the power your mind has over your movements and responses. Tuning in to that connection enhances the following mental health benefits of practicing Pilates:

  • Elevated mood: Endorphins cause that wonderful feeling you get after exercising. Naturally produced by your body through exercise, endorphins make you feel great and help relieve pain. While that may be enough to elevate your mood, your body also produces a host of other chemicals, which pharmaceutical companies try to replicate, that can affect your mood as well: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals influence functions, such as alertness, mood, and sleep. These chemicals work together to balance and regulate your mood and alertness throughout the day.
  • Reduced stress: Your body also produces a hormone called cortisol, which impacts your mood, motivation, and fear—in other words, your stress level. Healthy levels of cortisol regulate bodily functions based on your needs, altering or shutting down functions altogether, but if you’re under a lot of stress, this alarm system remains on high alert and impacts your physical health, derailing your bodily functions instead of protecting them.

However, exercise can help. When you exercise you are activating your central nervous system and raising your cortisol levels. You are using a controlled environment to deal with stress. The more you exercise, the better your body learns to anticipate stress, the better you understand how your body responds to stressors, and then your brain adapts and learns what you’re doing. What gets called “muscle memory” is actually mental memory.

Pilates equipment

The breathing you incorporate while doing Pilates exercises and the deep connection you foster between your mind and body help you to recognize early on when you’re undergoing stress and offer a great release for it as well. While you can’t jump on your Pilates reformer in the middle of traffic that stresses you out, you can control your movement and adapt, using your increased focus to be better aware not only of how you’re feeling but also of how to deal with it calmly.

  • Increased BNDF levels: Your brain is a pretty might structure, and if you want to grow new neural connections, repair brain cells, and protect healthy ones, you just need some good brain fertilizer. BNDF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) helps your brain develop new pathways so that you can learn new things, gain new skills, and store and recall memories. If your brain feels sluggish, it could be your BNDF levels in decline, but you can generate more through exercise. Exercise offers one simple way to continue building BNDF levels to keep you alert, raise the effectiveness of your recall, and keep you thinking and learning throughout the day. You may think that you have to engage in some heavy lifting or high-paced cardio to increase your BNDF levels, but every age and ability can use a Pilates reformer to get the necessary exercise to raise your BNDF levels.
  • Changed mindset: Exercising to make up for something you ate or to attain a specific, physical image can actually lead to harmful, unhealthy exercise habits. So change your mindset to empower yourself. Instead of thinking of how you must exercise, focus on the amazing things you can accomplish when you exercise. When you use a Pilates reformer, you begin to see what your body can do, and you forge a deeper connection between your mind and body.

 Using Pilates equipment challenges your entire body, and your mindset changes from needing a specific outcome to rising to the challenge. Ride the wave of the feel-good chemicals your brain produces and focus on the positive feelings you have after working out. Focus on the strength you’ve exhibited, the mobility you gained, and the endurance you utilized down to the finish. This changed mindset and a renewed focus on your ability and not your looks can increase the positive feelings about your body image as you embrace who you are.

  • Improved sleep: We all know what it feels like to lose sleep or to get a good night's sleep. Sleep affects our mood and how we function, and how much we sleep and the quality of our sleep affects our mental health. Getting restful sleep recharges your mind and body, giving you time to heal and repair. Exercise gives you that healthy physical activity that prepares you for rest, and consistent exercise puts you into a routine that helps regulate your sleep. When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you complicate your physical health and compromise your mental health.
  • Increased ability to cope with anxiety: Often confused with stress, anxiety operates differently. You don’t need a stressor to have persistent, excessive worry. Exercise offers a two-prong approach to helping with anxiety. First, exercise helps you to sleep better, and sleep can often be difficult and uneasy while dealing with anxiety. Secondly, exercise helps to relieve your body of tension, the physical effects of anxiety, and activates the frontal regions of your brain that help control how you react to threats—real or imagined. So exercise helps reduce feelings of anxiety, and regular exercise can fortify these resources.

Practicing Pilates consistently helps build a host of physical and mental benefits. You can strengthen your muscles and increase your mobility while building some mental muscle that not only helps you think, recall, and stay alert but also helps you cope with stress and anxiety. By using your Pilates equipment at home, you reap the mental benefits of exercise and an increased mind-body connection that enhances your everyday life.

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