Fight Obesity with Pilates

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Lynn, Eng

Obesity is not beautiful by the modern day's standards. The female images painted by classic artists during the Renaissance period can be classified as moderately obese. Note, however, that the look is not the issue. Obesity is not beautiful because fat people are plagued by too many health and psychological issues. They live with discomforts triggered by medical conditions that set in due to obesity. Excessive weight can trap them in a body that cannot do as they please and that robs them of quality life, time and even simple joys.

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There are many ways to melt those calories that build the blocks of ugly bulges. But always, this will entail a program that includes a sensible diet, a healthy lifestyle, and a physical fitness routine or at least a regular physical activity. This is where Pilates comes in. You can definitely fight obesity with Pilates if you can combine it with the other elements of healthy living.

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If you read the biography of Joseph Pilates, you will come to realize his motivations when he developed this exercise system. A child with frail health, he matured and grew old, and was extremely fit. He lived the wisdom and faith in physical fitness - "Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness." - Joseph Pilates (1883 – 1967).

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How Pilates Approaches the Exercise Dilemma of Obese

  1. 1
    The Dilemma.
    It is wrong to underestimate people with excessive weight problems. They know they are in serious trouble and that they need to work towards an ideal weight to avoid numerous weight-related medical conditions. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.
    1. Think of them as trapped in a vicious cycle that is pushing them deeper into their weight problem.
    2. It is not that they don't want to exercise; they just can't do the exercises without much difficulty and embarrassment.
    3. They feel too heavy to bend, jog, or lift their appendages for long.
    4. They shy away from it, and they are pushed harder towards idleness and a sedentary lifestyle, wallow in self-pity, stay cooped up in homes where they eat more and gain more pounds.
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  2. 2
    There's a Way Out.
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    Why is Pilates ideal for overweight and obese people? This exercise system shows people that they can engage in a physical activity easy enough to make weight goals achievable for them. It eliminates the barriers that prevent them from doing the routine.
    1. Making a difference. The use of Pilates exercise equipment such as Reformer, Pilates ball, Cadillac, and foam rollers make the physical activity more attainable. These help overweight users to do the routine with greater ease that can otherwise be nearly impossible while just standing up for a prolonged period.
    2. Modifications lead to flexibility. Pilates is also known to be an exercise system that allows modification to be done to meet the needs of a person suffering from obesity. There are ways to make the adjustments to facilitate building of strength and endurance.
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Appreciating Anatomical Issues of Obesity

If you have an excessive weight problem and you want to start a physical activity program, there are some facts about obesity that you need to understand. Pilates helps you understand these thoughtful aspects.

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  1. 1
    Weak and slackened muscles.
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    Obese people need to build strong muscles. With the accumulation of adipose tissues and lack of exercise, their muscles are almost always frail and baggy. They generally have pitiable muscle tone, so that muscular support for pelvis (hips), knees, and back is feeble. The joints located in the lumbar spine, hips, knees,and shoulders are also typically weak.
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  2. 2
    Bad posture and alignment.
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    With excessive weight, it is virtually impossible for an obese person to stay in balance. This is why their bodies are most likely misaligned. In fact, they have a tendency to be forward shifted from the knee up to crown of the head. This kind of posture unduly puts pressure on the small bones of the flower appendages - the knee joints, ankles and feet – as well as the vertebral bones located at the shoulders, lower back, and the upper portion of the vertebral column towards the neck..
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  3. 3
    Stability (Balance), Proprioception and Biomechanics.
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    These all tend to suffer because of excessive weight. All these connote their difficulty and inability to sense how their bodies are moving and how they are positioned. This can lead them to easily lose their balance, and thus to fall or have accidents.
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Weight Goals that Pilates Must Aim to Attain

In view of these anatomical issues, Pilates instructors who are sensitive to the plight of their heavy clients must design a program of workout that will help their overweight students achieve their health objectives. These goals can likely be attained with the following strategies:

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  1. 1
    Instill knowledge about their bodies.
    The Pilates clients need to be instructed on how to feel their own bodies. This will make them develop consciousness of self, as well as their bones and muscles that lie underneath the skin.
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  2. 2
    Show them the way to free their muscles from indolence.
    Pilates instructors are in a position to lead their students with weight problems to liberate their muscles from inactivity. Muscles like the transversus abdominis need to be prodded to get stronger and more flexible to effectively render stability and support to the lumbar pelvic girdle.
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  3. 3
    Help the overweight clients to develop strength and flexibility.
    This is particularly important in those parts that need to support from other muscle groups and joints such as hips, knees, and lumbar spine. Strength and flexibility can significantly improve alignment, which can make them do other exercises and tasks more easily. Won't that be motivating to try more difficult Pilates routines?
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The Principles of Pilates: Addressing Obesity Issues

As a person with weight problems begins to understand the anatomical issues that explain a lot about the physical difficulties of a fat person, they may warm up to the idea of doing Pilates. They also may start becoming comfortable with the idea of exercising. As they embark and get deeper into Pilates, they start with the early phase of reformation through recombining the mind and the body. It is in this area where you can expect the five principles of Pilates to be at work, not only for physical strength and stamina, but also for attaining a certain kind of wholeness essential for true fitness.

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  1. 1
    In Pilates, it is believed that the principle of centering is between the lower ribs and the pubic bone. Knowing the location of the source of power, the "powerhouse", is critical as well. All too often, this is hard to find among people with excessive weight, making it difficult for them to know from where their energy must emanate. Pilates helps an obese person find that powerhouse.
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  2. 2
    The early days of Pilates can be frustrating as you experience difficulty in controlling your muscles. This is especially true for the overweight. By sticking to Pilates, no matter how overweight a person is, he or she is apt to develop the control on the muscles. It will also help one slowly move away from use of compensatory body movements that can be tiring other muscles.
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  3. 3
    Among other things, obese people sometimes have mental lapses and tend to be mentally disconnected from their bodies. An effective instructor is aware of this and must help the client develop that self-consciousness or awareness of his or her body. The ultimate goal is to establish that bond between mind and body.
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  4. 4
    Pilates is also known for its fluidity that happens when movements continuously flow from one pose to another, much like yoga. Overweight practitioners have trouble sustaining this fluidity because they also have poor control of their muscles. So, instead of flowing, body parts are hurled instead. Developing the ability to control muscles can lead to flowing movements exhibiting a sense of precise movement, grace, and safety.
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  5. 5
    In almost every exercise or fitness system, breathing is emphasized as important to generate that power or energy. For the overweight, however, this is off. Pilates can help them learn proper and natural diaphragmatic breathing. This can wonderfully oxygenate the body for it to generate energy and to cleanse all organs.
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Tips and Tricks: Sample Pilates Exercises

For people who need a set of safe Pilates exercises, here are a few basic Pilates movements for you.

  • <you>Improve your alignment:</you> Strengthen Transversus Abdominis. Practice correct body posture by sitting on a platform extender located on top of a reformer, a popular Pilates equipment. Make sure to keep your spine and pelvis neutral.
  • <you>Strengthen Abs:</you> Here the client lies flat on a Pilates Edge while a foam cushion is held between their knees.
  • <you>Workout for the pectorals:</you> The overweight client can do this while lying flat on a foam roller. The feet must be planted on the floor while the arms are open to the sides of the body to lengthen the pectorals or the front of the chest.
  • <you>Develop the rhomboids:</you> To accomplish this, get the client to sit on the reformer box; get him or her comfortable there. To successfully do the "Back Rowing on Reformer" let the shoulders rest and let the palms face forward, while the pelvis and spine are neutral.
  • <you>Work those hamstrings and gluteals through Hip Rolls:</you> This exercise is done while lying flat on the back and with feet on arc barrel. Place the foam cushion between knees and keep the hips stretched in a bridge position.

Sound easy? It is because Joseph Pilates envisioned that his exercise system will leave the practitioners feeling more good than tired. If that isn't enough to convince the overweight that this is a system to try, read his thoughts: "Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness." If you want to give this exercise system a try and you want to fight obesity with Pilates, it is time to leave your couch and start movin' that body.

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Categories : Physical Activity & Diet

Recent edits by: Lynn, Nerissa Avisado

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