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Top 6 Pilates Exercises for Enhancing Balance and Coordination

Although Pilates has gained much popularity in more recent years, the Pilates Foundation explains it’s been around and loved since the 1920s. The mind-body connection you establish during a Pilates workout can help alleviate stress, enhance mindfulness and body awareness, and boost your coordination. We spoke with Stacey Jernigan, instructor for Club Pilates, who breaks down some of the best Pilates exercises to improve your balance....CONTINUE.THE.FULL.READING OF THE ARTICLE>>>

“Pilates is one of the gold standards in guiding the human body into better shape,” Jernigan tells us. “[It’s] known as a system of exercises that incorporates deep abdominal breathing throughout each movement. The controlled movements, along with the deep breathing, make Pilates a safe, effective, and doable exercise choice for anyone, even those with issues related to their joints, spine, and heart.”

Below are some of the best Pilates exercises to help boost your physical strength, range of motion, endurance, balance, and posture. One of the greatest things about kickstarting your Pilates journey is that you just need some floor space and a yoga mat, blanket, or towel. Now, let’s get started!

Scissors

Gear up for scissors. “This movement will improve core strength and hamstring flexibility, as well as improve walking and standing in better alignment, as it helps your mind and body remember to utilize your core to move your legs,” explains Jernigan.

Lie flat on your back, extending your legs gently above the floor. Keep your core muscles activated and your hips steady as you lower one leg and lift the other. Switch legs in a scissor-like motion. Perform six to eight lifts per leg as you alternate. Complete two to three sets in total with five to 10-second rests between sets.

Bridges

“Bridging is a great exercise to strengthen the posterior chain of muscles: glutes, hamstrings, and the muscles in the mid back surrounding the middle part of your spine, as well as your core muscles,” says Jernigan. “It also aids in hip flexibility and mobility, which is particularly beneficial to those who are sitting at a desk or driving much of the day.”

Lie flat on the ground with bent knees and your feet hip-width apart on the floor. With tight abs, press into your heels to lift your hips a few inches off the floor. Use control to lower to the start position. Feel free to squeeze a small pillow or ball between your thighs as you raise and lower to aid in alignment. Complete three sets of eight to 12 bridges.

Seated Rotation

“[The seated] rotation will help strengthen the abdominals that wrap around the spine, as well as increase the flexibility of the thoracic spine (middle part of the back), which will help prevent neck and back issues,” Jernigan points out.

Sit down with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lean back just a bit. Keep your abs tight as you rotate your torso from one side, to the center, then to the other side. Make sure your rotation is slow and you are only moving your body from the waist up. Perform six to eight reps per side.

Mermaid

Begin the mermaid with your legs bent and swept to one side and your feet flexed. From the waist up, perform a side bend to the side away from your feet, all while maintaining solid posture. Complete five to eight reps on each side.

Quadruped

“This is a great exercise to help with balance, as well as to strengthen the obliques, which play a large role in supporting our spine and helping prevent back pain,” says Jernigan.

Start on all fours, keeping your knees bent and under your hips. Your arms should be straight with your hands below your shoulders. Next, curve your spine toward the ceiling as you pull your shoulder blades apart. Then, straighten your back. Lengthen one leg behind you while keeping your hips level. If you feel stable, feel free to lengthen the opposite arm overhead at the same time. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds before repeating on the opposite side. Aim for eight to 10 reps per side.

Squats

squat

“Squats are a very important exercise—especially as we age—so that we are able to continue to lead independent lives and be able to perform functional activities like getting in and out of our car, getting in and out of bed, getting up and down off of the toilet,” explains Jernigan. “Just be sure if you struggle a great deal with balance to stay close to a chair or a wall to hold onto for stability.”

Begin with your feet planted just outside hip-width and your toes facing forward. Bend at the knees, and push your hips back to lower into a squat. Press through your heels to engage your buttocks. Squat as low as you’re comfortably able to, keeping in mind any back or knee pain. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds before rising back up. Complete this exercise six to 12 times.

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Tiara Clephin

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