How yoga and Pilates benefit beginners

June 28, 2018 by Scott Gilbert, Pennsylvania State University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The idea of going for a run or joining a gym can be intimidating for people who don't exercise. When you have a health condition that prevents you from engaging in many types of high-impact exercise, it can also be tough to know where to start.

Yoga and Pilates are two forms of low-impact that people of all ages and can do to improve both their physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Jayson Loeffert, a primary-care sports medicine physician at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said both are also popular because they require little if any special equipment. Plus, once you learn how to do the moves correctly, they can be done in the comfort of your own home.

"Both use your own body weight and can be tailored for levels from beginner to advanced," Loeffert said.

Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles between the shoulders and pelvis, called the "powerhouse," while often incorporates a mind-body connection and can include elements of meditation and breathing techniques. According to the American Osteopathic Association, one of the benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress.

"That can be beneficial for your mental health, as well," Loeffert said.

He recommends attending a class for beginners where an instructor can lead you through the poses and watch your form to make sure you are doing them correctly. Both exercises include slow, careful movements that can improve strength, balance and flexibility.

The exercises are typically practiced barefoot with a floor mat while wearing clothing that allows for ease of movement.

Because yoga and Pilates are low impact, they are a good fit for people with arthritis or those dealing with other injuries. "Most people can tolerate it without much problem," he said. "It's good for healing."

People with diabetes, high blood pressure or neuropathy in their legs can also see benefits from the slow movements that build muscles and improve the metabolism, which helps regulate blood sugar.

Barbara Cole, a nurse practitioner with Penn State Health Medical Group at Park Avenue in State College, said yoga and Pilates can help with management of chronic conditions; preventing and treating back pain; improving posture and balance; advancing range of motion; and making it easier to get a good night's sleep.

"It can also reduce stress and anxiety while increasing your overall fitness," she said.

She recommends that pregnant women, with , risk of blood clots, herniated disks or other pre-existing conditions check with their doctor before beginning a program.

Although neither yoga nor Pilates are considered to be cardiovascular exercises, participants can still increase their heart rate while practicing. Loeffert said, "I do think you get some cardio benefits, so if that's your only activity, it's better than nothing."

Explore further: The body benefits of pilates

Related Stories

The body benefits of pilates

October 12, 2017
(HealthDay)—If you're looking for an exercise that's gentle yet challenging and works your core like no other, consider Pilates.

Exercise options that double as stress-busters

June 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Exercise is a known stress buster, and different disciplines relax and tone you in a variety of ways. So, you can pick and choose from many types of exercise to go beyond physical fitness to better mental health.

Take a new view of yoga

July 5, 2017
(HealthDay)—Want to add strength training, flexibility, and even stress reduction to your fitness plan?

Use 'proper form' when practicing yoga

April 23, 2018
(HealthDay)—Yoga can make you flexible and strong, but it can also hurt you if not practiced correctly, an orthopedic expert warns.

Making the most of gym time

May 24, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you find that you're more motivated by working out under the guidance of a fitness instructor and like the idea of varying your workouts, taking classes is a great choice.

Exercises for chronic health conditions

May 10, 2018
(HealthDay)—Exercise can help prevent many chronic illnesses as well as make it easier to manage health conditions, from diabetes to joint pain.

Recommended for you

Emotional abuse may be linked with menopause misery

November 19, 2018
Smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have long been linked to heightened symptoms of menopause. Now, a study headed by UC San Francisco has identified another factor that may add to menopause torment: an emotionally ...

How AI could help veterinarians code their notes

November 19, 2018
A team led by scientists at the School of Medicine has developed an algorithm that can read the typed-out notes from veterinarians and predict specific diseases that the animal may have.

Bullying and violence at work increases the risk of cardiovascular disease

November 19, 2018
People who are bullied at work or experience violence at work are at higher risk of heart and brain blood vessel problems, including heart attacks and stroke, according to the largest prospective study to investigate the ...

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.