Benefits of Mind-Body Exercise
Benefits of Mind-Body Exercise
Fitting exercise into your life is crucial. Finding time for fitness has been proven to reduce illness and boost well-being. But not all exercise is the same. Weight training, swimming, running, or cycling offer known cardiovascular and physical benefits. But, as stress takes over more space in our modern lives, the benefits of mind body exercises like yoga, Pilates, barre, and tai chi can’t be underestimated. Adding a few of these in your weekly or monthly rotation will only help by promoting inner mental focus, concentrating on muscular movements, synchronizing these movements with breathing patterns, and focusing on form and alignment of the body.
Not sure where to start? We have broken down the specific benefits of each type of mind-body exercise below.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has been scientifically proven to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, even after just one class. This reduction can lead to many great benefits, including lifting depression, reducing inflammation, and easing the burden of chronic pain and arthritis. Another study found that yoga helped lower blood pressure in people over the age of 40.
Yoga helps to connect the mind and body through the breath so that you become more present, which in turn aids in injury prevention. The focus on the breath is a skill that is often taken off the mat and into real life with positive results.
There are many forms of yoga to suit all bodies – chair and gentle yoga for those recovering from injuries or taking things slow, and power yoga for those looking to burn a considerable number of calories without the high impact of running or jumping.
“I like doing ‘hard core’ workouts, but after a while, it began taking its toll on my body. A friend recommended Yoga. I was skeptical but joined a class and I love it! Yoga has given my workout routine balance and has actually allowed me to perform better in my other group fitness classes. I lift more weight, jump a little higher and tackle every jump in spin class.” – Jackie L. –Healthtrax Bethel Park
Benefits of Pilates
Practicing Pilates can help improve flexibility, range of motion, balance and posture. Pilates strengthens and tones muscles without adding bulk, making it an exercise of choice among dancers and other athletes. Pilates was made popular in the early 1960’s in New York City. Now, mat Pilates classes can be found all over the world.
Beginners are encouraged to learn mat Pilates first, then they may want to move up to Pilates on Reformer equipment. The equipment might resemble a torture apparatus, looking like a single bed frame but with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs to regulate tension and resistance. However, far from painful, these cables, bars, straps, and pulleys allow exercises to be done from a variety of positions, even standing.
The founder of Pilates called it "the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit." It is known as a way to practice each movement with total attention.
"I love watching everyone in my Pilates class walk out after class, standing taller and taking a deep sigh as they say how good they feel" Linda R – Healthtrax North Haven
Benefits of Barre
Barre is a great workout for your mid body, even voted the best core workout from Bustle magazine. Similar to the principles of Pilates and yoga, barre touts’ movements with intention. Barre takes some positions and movements from ballet (as well as the signature ballet barre) but is totally different from a dance class. You won't typically find cardio in this workout, but rather a series of strengthening exercises targeting your arms, legs, and core body overall.
"I found muscles I never knew I had!" Barre class participants – Sue and Jody –Healthtrax North Haven
Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai Chi may not even feel like fitness, with its low-impact, slow motion movements, but the benefits of that kind of mindful motion and attention on the breath are valuable for people of all fitness levels. Fitness beginners can start without having too much of a learning curve or a need to build endurance while the most dedicated fitness expert can benefit from slowing down and working on their balance. The specific benefits of tai chi include improved muscle strength from flowing through at a consistent pace, and increased flexibility. However, the focus on balance has been proven to be the top reason to add this to your fitness routine.
Any type of exercise will improve a person’s mental health, as moving your body is a form of stress relief. Adding Yoga, Pilates, Barre or Tai Chi to your routine can help by reducing anxiety, improving energy, focus and mood. Also, the Group Centergy Classes available at most Healthtrax locations incorporate yoga & Pilates foundations and can be a good place to start.
Healthtrax has a mission of promoting the long-term health of you and your family and the Mind/Body integration is a key part of that. We encourage you to give any of our Mind/Body classes a try and see how it can add variety to your workout while elevating your overall well-being.