Pilates Inspiration – Pole Dancing

sport fitness pole dancing

Just like gymnastics and figure-skating, pole dancing requires a great deal of fitness and skill to master.  It also provides a useful example of all eight principles of Pilates in action – core strength or centering; alignment; breathing, i.e. using the breath to drive and control the moves; co-ordination; relaxation, i.e. only using the muscles needed to execute a movement, allowing others to relax; flowing movement; stamina; concentration – as the following videos of Karo Swen and Kristian Lebedev demonstrate…

 

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Pilates – Best Exercise for the Menopause

hot-flush-vintage

A recent (Spring 2016) research study by the Spanish Menopause Society, the Spanish Cardiology Society and the Spanish Federation of Sports Medicine has found that ‘Pilates could help take some of the pain out of the menopause.’

The typical British woman goes through the menopause at 51 with symptoms, which range from hot flushes to sleepless nights, headaches and depression, potentially lasting up to 14 years.  Hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) is the main treatment, but is not suitable for all and many who could take it are put off by the side effects (headaches, heartburn) and fears that it may trigger breast cancer.

Pilates Foundation photograph

The report says that while swimming, dancing and other forms of physical activity all help reduce the symptoms of the menopause, Pilates – as well as weight lifting and high intensity interval training (HIIT) – are likely to be the most beneficial. Why?  Examples given were that these three forms of exercise:

  • strengthen the bones and muscles;
  • make it easier for the body to deal with the lapses in heat control that occur around the menopause due to hormonal changes;
  • improve balance thereby preventing falls.

Researcher Dr Helen Jones concluded that the results of the study were so impressive that exercise could be viewed as a natural alternative to HRT.

To read more about these findings, go here.

To close, First Aid Kit performing My Silver Lining…see what I did there…

 

Sleep and Brain Health

Greer and Robert on the bed, NYC 1982 by Nan Goldin

Greer and Robert on the bed, NYC 1982 by Nan Goldin

A report was published today on the impact of poor sleep on brain health in later life. The research was carried out by the Global Council on Brain Health – a panel of experts convened by Age UK and the American Association of Retired Persons.

Here are the key findings from the report as featured in the latest news section of the Age UK website

Experts have found that in order to maintain a healthy brain and stay mentally sharp, we must make it a priority to get the required amount of sleep in later life.

What happens to our sleep as we age

Sleeping well becomes harder as we age. Our sleep patterns change so we become more vulnerable to waking up during the night and earlier in the morning.

Robert Rauschenberg’s bed, 1955

The health risks associated with sleep deprivation

Feeling sluggish and under the weather is a common experience if we don’t sleep well, but there is less awareness of the fact that those of us who have chronic, inadequate sleep on a regular basis are at higher risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, fall-related injuries and cancer.

“Sleeping is something we all tend to take for granted, but we really have to wise up to the fact that getting the right amount of good sleep is crucial as we age, helping to protect us from all kinds of problems that can affect our brains as well as our bodies.” – James Goodwin, Chief Scientist at Age UK

Factors which disturb sleep

Disturbances to sleep in older age can be environmental, such as the temperature of a bedroom, or related to lifestyle factors such as eating late or taking certain medications.

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea are also more common in later life and ‘deep sleep’ decreases in adults between the ages of 30 to 60.

Ella Campbell

Ella Campbell

How to improve your sleep quality

The report includes a number of tips for people from middle age onwards to employ throughout the day to improve the quality of their sleep. These include:

  • Get up at the same time every day
  • Expose yourself to natural sunlight during the daytime
  • Don’t drink alcohol to help you to sleep
  • Try and eat dinner approximately three hours before going to bed
  • Don’t drink coffee (caffeine) after lunch time
  • Don’t look at an electronic screen of any kind after you get into bed – tablet, phone, laptop
  • Avoid using over-the-counter sleep preparations
  • Wear socks to keep your feet warm in bed
  • Don’t sleep with pets in the bedroom
  • Avoid arguments with a spouse or partner before going to bed
  • Limit afternoon naps to less than 30 minutes

To close, a favourite sleep-related track from Teenage Fanclub from 1995…

Happy New Pilates Year

stretch

The Embody Pilates new year starts tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd January when our usual weekly timetable of eleven classes resumes in our brand spanking newly refurbished studio.

If you haven’t been to Pilates for a while, or have been meaning to try Pilates but never quite got round to it, why not make 2017 the year when Pilates becomes a key way of maintaining your health and fitness.

Look forward to welcoming you all to class from tomorrow.

Pilates, it’s for life not just for January.

To close, here’s Julia Jacklin, my New Year discovery.  Thanks, Santa!