Pilates = Functional Exercise

Functional Pilates Collage2.jpg

Pilates = Functional Exercise

Doctors and Health professionals, and our own government recommends  we exercise 20-30 minutes per day (they actually say “at least 2 ½ hrs per week.”) But not all exercise is equal, nor are those who are exercising. For instance, what if even everyday activities become threatened by a physical condition - walking, stair climbing, going from sitting to standing and vice versa, reaching up to a high shelf or getting in and out of a car?  Once we start to lose the ease of these daily activities, we lose quality of life and it can be a snowball effect into a less active and ultimately less mobile life, and nobody wants that.

Cue: Functional Exercise.

Functional exercises are those that train the body for these daily activities.  Luckily, Pilates is a wonderful example of functional exercise. The many different pieces of equipment and props makes it accessible for all fitness levels or injuries and the resistance is very flexible so you can increase strength slowly based on individual needs.  

I heard a radio program the other day discussing how the risk of falling, in seniors, is directly linked to mortality rates, for all sorts of reasons. A few of the outcome measures physios and doctors look at to determine if a patient is more likely to fall are:

  • Sit to stand: If they can sit and stand 5 or 6 times in 10 seconds they are less likely to fall
  • Standing on 1 leg: If they can balance on one leg successfully for 10 seconds or more, they have less of a chance of falling
  • Gait measure:  a wide stride decreases the likelihood of a fall.

“This is for seniors”, you say, “I’m only 45, I’m fine!”.

Well think again. We all start to lose muscle mass incrementally starting at the age of 30. How quickly your strength decreases depends on how active you are. Given today’s epidemic of the “sitting disease” and how sedentary a large percentage of us are, we need to think of ways we can stay fit and healthy and maintain our functional strength, to maintain a good quality of life as we age.

The evidence is clear. More and more studies are proving that exercise can be more effective than a pill in preventing (and in some cases fighting) certain diseases. This is why many Doctors are starting to prescribe exercise instead of pills.  There is a global initiative called Exercise is Medicine focused on doing just that.

Exercise is Medicine® Canada (EIMC)

"EIMC is a movement to encourage a healthy lifestyle among Canadians. EIMC programs are based on abundant evidence that physical activity and exercise reduce the risk of chronic disease and the belief that:

  • Most Canadians can find simple ways to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their daily routines;
  • More should be done to address physical activity and exercise in the healthcare setting; physical activity and exercise should be incorporated as a key health indicator and standard of medical care as a ‘vital sign’; and,
  • Certified exercise professionals serve as important resources for Canadians and their healthcare providers

Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) is a global health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients and referring their patients to recognized Exercise Professionals. EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity is integral in the prevention and treatments of diseases and should be regularly assessed and “treated” as part of all healthcare."

Making Exercise a Priority

I sat a computer for 3 hours doing admin, scheduling, and, yes, writing this blog. Even for someone who runs a Pilates studio, getting a healthy range of exercise each week is something I have to prioritise. Perhaps it helps that I get periodic reminders of the cumulative effect of leaving exercise somewhere down the priority list? Yet the evidence is in, and it seems the slow ship of Healthcare consensus is turning towards exercise as being key to better quality of life in both the short and long term.  With regular exercise (of any kind, but Pilates is Perfect :), you simply can’t lose.