Editor's Note: This post was originally published October 2014 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
For the past ten years, Pilates has become more and more popular in the fitness community. Whether you're young or old it's a perfect way to improve balance, mobility and strengthen the core. At AFPA we are passionate about delivering information and workouts that are tailored to each age group and fitness level; in today's post you'll gain insight into the benefits of Pilates for senior citizens.
Keeping fit and mobile is essential, especially for seniors. As we get older, healthy movements can help with balance, stability, control and overall fitness. With all of the movements out there it can be difficult to decide what movements are the best fit for older adults.
Here are our top three favorite Pilates exercises!
(Gentle Tip: Have your patient perform each movement on a comfortable mat so their body can stay comfortable during their workout).
1. Pilates Kneeling Rear Leg Raise
Have your patient position their body on all fours with their weight evenly distributed between their elbows and knees. Have them gently engage their core and extend their right leg back with their toes pointed and hovering slightly above the ground. While keeping the leg straight your patient will then lift their leg as high as they can without causing discomfort or arching their back. Lower the leg slowly back down to starting, and then switch legs.
This workout is designed to engage your core and lower body, which will help them to build stronger glutes, ultimately improving mobility.
The Mermaid is a great movement for older adults because it will lengthen the side and provide inner flow. To start, have your patient sit on their mat with both of their legs folded to the left side. Place the right hand on the floor to give the body support when they sit up. While keeping the left shoulder down, extend the left arm straight up and lengthen the spine as the body stretches to the side. The opposite (support) hand will move farther away from the body to increase the stretch but be sure your patient isn't over-challenging their body or that their ribs aren't popping forward.
To return back to start, send the left sit bone down and then engage the core to bring the torso up. Repeat on the other side to complete the full movement.
3. Side Circles
Side circles can improve hip joint flexibility and improve balance. To perform a side circle, have your patient lay on their side and extend their leg towards the ceiling (without causing discomfort). The leg will then move counterclockwise in small circles. And then clockwise in small circles. Lower leg and switch sides to reap the full-benefits of this Pilates movement.
The Benefits of Pilates
There are many different benefits of Pilates for older adults. Many participants have found relief from arthritis, improvement in flexibility and strength, and more!