Many Pilates aficionados take classes to strengthen their core, or perhaps as a way to have a leaner body. Both results can be attained through a regular Pilates program. Another benefit of Pilates that many may not realize is how the popular exercise regimen can improve your brain’s health too!
When we hit our 20’s our brains tend to begin to shrink. The hippocampus part of our brain – the part which plays a major part in our memory and cognitive functions – will lose 1% of its volume. Until recently, scientist believed that everyone is born with a specific number of brain cells. Actually it’s been recently discovered that our brains can create new cells, which can both put off brain shrinkage, as well as possible even delay it. This ability to produce new brain cells leads to better memory function, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and even improve problem-solving and result in a higher IQ among other benefits.
So ,what is this key to new cell formation, and how do we do it? Exercise. Exercise has a very positive effect on one’s existing cells by stimulating development through a compound with nerve-protecting effects called BDNF, or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.
If you are familiar with Classical Pilates, then you are very familiar with the reformers used in all Classical Pilates studios. The use of reformers provides a gentle, impact-free workout which both relaxes and strengthens your muscles. Plus, the use of reformers is what’s called a mindful practice – it’s a form of exercise that can actually improve your brain’s cognitive function. While practicing Reformer Pilates as it is sometimes referred to, you’ll learn the six principles which require you to use your brain power while honing your skills of each exercise. First, your concentration of the methods helps you to focus on the connection between your mind and your body. Second, the common Pilates discipline of “centering” helps to sharpen your core muscles which in turn leads to stronger body movements. Third, control helps with both the precision and control of your body movements. Fourth, by practicing controlled breathing while you are exercising, you are actually helping to activate your muscles and improve mental focus. Fifth, to make sure your movements are executed properly, focus on the precision of your exercise. And sixth, concentration on how you are moving ensures a smooth flow of movements.
Healthy bodies and healthy brains can be found at Performance Pilates, so call today and make an appointment! Your brain will thank you!