Doctors often tell you the key to heart disease prevention is aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming—activities that keep your heart rate elevated for a prolonged period of time. While Pilates is not truly aerobic activity, it acts as a supplement to aerobic exercises by cross-training. In other words, Pilates combines strength and flexibility training, along with balance and coordination training, to strengthen the structures that support healthy bones and joints so you can enjoy aerobic activities for the longterm.
All that said, some Pilates classes do utilize the jump board and different types of interval training to infuse aerobic elements into the session. Some of the more advanced work may have aerobic properties, as well. You working so hard to what your teacher just requested of you.
In addition, the emphasis on deep, rhythmic breathing and smooth flow of controlled movements elicit a natural calming effect. The de-stressing benefits of Pilates aid in decreasing blood pressure—an important component to heart health. The practice of breath helps improve circulation, which is important for heart function. In fact, Joseph Pilates once said, “True heart control follows correct breathing which simultaneously reduces heart strain, purifies the blood, and develops the lungs.” He has also said, “The exercises will stir your sluggish circulation into action by discharging accumulated fatigue through the bloodstream. Your brain clears and your will power begins to function.”
Moral of the story: Heart health, and overall health, require a comprehensive approach. Diet, activity, and rest are all contributing factors to a healthy and happy life. Even though Pilates may not be considered a traditional aerobic activity, it’s still a fun and invigorating supplement to a healthy lifestyle. And it’s oh-so-lovable!