3 Ways Pilates May Help Your Brain

Hands rolling up a yoga mat
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If your New Year’s goals include getting in shape, consider Pilates. This popular exercise program can improve flexibility and build core strength — and it may even offer brain benefits. Here’s how:

1. It promotes focus and mindfulness.

It’s difficult to practice Pilates with a wandering mind. “In Pilates, we ask you to move one vertebra at a time,” and that requires attention and focus, says Anne Bishop, a Pilates instructor in Petaluma, California, and the founder of an educational organization called Body Brain Connect. Bishop teaches students to notice sensations produced by each movement and to coordinate their movements and breathing. When movement, breath and attention are in sync, that can create a meditative state, she says.

2. It could make you stronger — in body and brain.

Pilates is a form of strength training, and a February 2020 study at the University of Sydney found that strength training led to benefits in cognitive performance. The study specifically identified benefits involving the hippocampus, which plays a major role in learning and memory.

3. It may help you sleep better.

While any form of exercise may help you sleep, Pilates may be especially beneficial. Dance students who practiced Pilates reported better sleep than those who did not in research by Marianne Adams, a professor of dance studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Pilates may engage the body and brain in ways that “help clear our head noise to let us lie down and sleep,” Adams suggests.

To read more about the brain benefits of Pilates, see the full article from Staying Sharp.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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