While Pilates exercises are a way for anyone of any age to strengthen their core and increase flexibility, it's particularly beneficial for those that are in their golden years. This is because Pilates can help alleviate the complications that are associated with old age, such as a loss in balance and flexibility; it can even help relive arthritis pain and inflammation without the use of heavy weights or exercising machines, which may add extra strain on the joints and muscles. With that said, below are some mild warm-up Pilates moves that senior citizens can do at home, gym or senior center.
Disclaimer: While it is proven that Pilates can provide many health benefits for senior citizens, it's best to discuss your new Pilates regime with your physician to makes sure that this form of exercise is ideal for your particular case.
#1 One-Leg Stance
This basic move while simple in instruction is great for strengthening your core and improving your balance.
Position: All one simply needs to do stand in an upright position, ensuring that the shoulders are back, the pelvis is in equal alignment, and abdominal muscles are squeezed. Keep arms relaxed at the sides of the body as weight is distributed evenly.
Action: While making sure that one is looking directly straight ahead, lift leg in front at a 90 degree angle and inhale. You should feel the air elongate through your spine. Place your hands on your hip bone and squeeze your gluts for added balance. Hold the stance for 5 seconds and then switch legs. If lifting your knee forward is too painful try lifting it at a 90 degree angle backwards instead. Use a mirror as a guide if you desire.
#2 Toe-and-Heel Rock
This move is designed to improve one's flexibility by encouraging blood flow to achy feet and legs.
Position: Like with the one led-stance, stand tall ensuring that your shoulders are back and that you weight is evenly distributed—your feet should be under your hips.
Action: Placing the weight on the balls of your feet, rock up and then slowly come back down on your heels. Constantly work to keep your body tall and straight, concentrating on only moving your feet and ankles. Place your hands on your hip bone for more support or use the wall. Continue to rock your feet and ankles for about 20 repetitions, or until you feel a warming sensation in your legs.
#3 Imprinted Spine
This last move is designed to help alleviate one of the main problematic areas of arthritis: the spine.
Position: Using a mat or firm pad, lie on the floor and raise your knees, arm should be by your sides. Your feet should be flat on the ground and hip-length apart. Carefully start concentrating on your breathing and squeeze your abdominals. As you exhale move your pelvis into a slight "tuck," lightly pressing your lower back into the mat. In hale and return to the normal position. Repeat this move about 5 times.
If the moves listed above still seem too strenuous, seniors can opt to participate in a less intense workout regime called "Chair Pilates." To get a better visual idea of how it works, parts one and two of the Stronger Seniors tutorial series are perfect examples of light Pilate moves senior citizens can do while in the comfort of a sturdy chair.
And remember, while one can in fact learn Pilates through a series of articles, books and instructional videos, seniors should definitely consider enrolling in a Pilates class with their peers at a senior center, Pilate's studios, gyms or YMCAs. Here, professionals will be able to make sure that you are doing the moves correctly. If an age-appropriate class does not exist, a beginner's class should suffice; just request that instructors make modifications to meet your needs.
This guest post is contributed by Leslie Johnson, who writes about health, green living, parenting related articles at masters in health administration.