The Importance of Maintaining Muscle Tone and How Pilates can Help

​A vital component of maintaining health and wellbeing is movement and there are lots of ways in which we can integrate this into our wellness lifestyle. We spoke with Jade Blake, a Private Practice Clinician, Physiotherapist to the GB Judo team and Clinical Pilates Instructor to discover why we should keep moving and what Pilates can offer.

Why is movement important?

Making the time to strengthen and maintain muscle mass is imperative to help maintain quality of life. Unfortunately, many of us have jobs that are based around sitting at a desk or with a long commute, naturally leading us towards a more sedentary lifestyle. It is important to continue to fight against this because the bad news is that even from the age of 30 our muscle bulk can start to reduce (sarcopenia) and then even more dramatically from 60 years and even more so at 80 years old. Sarcopenia has been linked to several chronic conditions that are common among the aged, including osteoporosis, insulin resistance and arthritis.

The government states that we should be doing either 75 mins/wk of high intensity physical activity or 150 mins/wk of moderate intensity exercise and further advise this can be doubled to positively impact health even more. This will benefit you not just physiologically but psychologically too, which is a whole other aspect of health and wellbeing that exercise has been proven to help with.

Thankfully, exercise doesn’t have to be high intensity, as I understand that this isn’t for everyone. It can also be moderate, such as walking, swimming, yoga or Pilates.

How can Pilates help?

Pilates has become increasingly popular over the years in the healthcare and fitness industry and was developed for physical fitness in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Different approaches have been taken on Pilates between these two industries. One placing more of an emphasis on ‘workout’, encouraging you to sweat more and increase the heart rate. The other approach, taken more by professionals like myself (Physiotherapist), use it as part of our rehabilitation and maintenance programmes for people who have suffered from injuries or for injury prevention.

Pilates has been proven to improve flexibility, strength and develops body control and endurance. It also offers so much more than this, for example, an increase in an individual's body awareness; what muscles are switching on and when, breathing (speed, depth, rhythm), co-ordination and balance.

There are different types of Pilates and the most commonly practiced, due to ease and availability of equipment, is matwork Pilates. The second is equipment Pilates and the reformer, Cadillac or Wunder Chair are the most common pieces of equipment in this form. Within matwork Pilates equipment can also be used to mix up the exercises and challenge individuals in different ways. This equipment can include the ova ball, magic circle, swissball, foam roller, weighted balls and TheraBand.

Over the years I have personally included Pilates and many of it’s exercises in my clinical Physiotherapy practice, in order to help patients achieve their fitness goals and enable them to return to other hobbies, whether this be golf, running, walking, football, weight lifts or many other disciplines. Others incorporate Pilates as their hobby and enjoy it as part of their weekly routine. A lot of my clients also then continue Pilates as maintenance and for prevention of any new or further injury.

Another question a lot of people ask me is "What is the difference between yoga and Pilates?" If I was to be extremely general Pilates focuses more on core and control and yoga focuses more on flexibility. However, there will be many practitioners that would disagree with this statement. Both do include balance, awareness and control of breathing, awareness and control of the body and the way it is moving. Classes are also very individual to the professional teaching the class and the way that they work.

Pilates may or may not be for you but for anyone with a sedentary lifestyle it is a great way to start moderate exercise to try and prevent sarcopenia, osteopenia/osteoporosis and promote health and wellbeing.

​If you would like to discover more about Pilates or Clinical Pilates please do not hesitate to contact Jade at ​