7 Ways Pilates Can Help You Through the HolidaysWednesday, Dec. 24th, 2014
Even for those who love the holidays, ’tis often the season of stress, strain and extra weight. Fortunately, Pilates can help offset all those less joyous “side effects,” freeing you up to actually enjoy the festivities instead of worrying about what havoc they might wreak.
Counteract the Treats
It only takes 500 extra calories per day for us to gain a pound a week. That’s pretty easy to do when neighbors, friends and co-workers are passing around the cookie tins, candy and pies. As if that isn’t bad enough, there are parties, Santa visits, and food on the fly when you’re out shopping.
Pilates can help you control your weight if you indulge a bit more than usual in seasonal offerings. The number of calories you burn will depend on workout intensity, but in general, beginners burn about four calories per minute; intermediate exercisers burn six; and those who have been doing Pilates for quite a while burn as many as 7 and a half calories for each minute of activity.
Holiday binges often include high-cholesterol foods that are not exactly heart friendly. Some of the faster, higher-intensity Pilates moves will get you into the aerobics zone, which provides cardiac benefits that can hopefully offset the less healthy factors.
Reduce the Strain
Lugging boxes to the post office, carrying a Christmas tree, or searching through the attic for the menorah, can all take a toll on your back. Even wrapping presents involves an unnatural level of leaning, bending and finger work. Your feet can also suffer, from all that shopping and standing on lines.
According to the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Pilates increases strength in the back muscles, and reduces existing pain in the entire area.
The hand, finger and foot stretching in many Pilates moves can do wonders for those types of strains as well.
The same holiday activities that lead to aches and soreness can also result in more serious injuries. Once again, Pilates can help. By improving not only strength but flexibility and balance as well, Pilates provides a measure of protection against pulled and torn muscles, falls and other injuries.
Pilates also increases your awareness of your own body, so that you move in ways that are less likely to cause damage.
Control Your Appetite
When you strengthen your abs, the internal girdle in your midsection gets tighter. Aside from looking buff, this means that your stomach is in a tighter place; overeating can become uncomfortable and you’re less likely to do it. You’ll still want your favorite treats, but maybe you’ll opt for half a portion instead of eating the whole thing.
Get Better Holiday Pictures
Not happy about how you usually look in those holiday family photos? In addition to helping with weight loss and stronger, more developed muscles, Pilates can give you great posture! By targeting muscles deep within the abdominal cavity, Pilates helps with muscle symmetry and balance. And when you stand up straight, you instantly look younger and more fit.
Reduce the Stress
Spending money, buying presents, making social obligations – can all cause stress. One of the most wonderful benefits of Pilates is the stress-busting effect. If this were the only benefit it gave you (which it won’t be), it would still be worth it, especially at this time of year!
Of course, the holidays are an extremely busy time. If getting to the gym or studio to do Pilates feels impossible, try working out at home.
Some of the best exercises to do at home include the roll-up, side kicks, tricep dips and mat “swimming.”
Making the effort to get in some Pilates exercises during this hectic season will give you more stamina, less stress and fewer New Year’s resolutions to worry about afterwards.