www.na The Pilates Body: August 2006

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pilates and the Obesity Pandemic: The Benefits of an Active Lifestyle

Obesity Trends in the United States
During the past twenty years, the rate of obesity among adults in the United States has significantly risen. The most recent data from the
National Center for Health Statistics show thirty percent of Americans ages twenty and older are obese--sixty million people. Additionally, the percentage in young adults and children has more than tripled since 1980. People who are overweight have increased risk of many diseases and heart conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and respiratory problems. While the national health objective is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adults to below fifteen percent by 2010, current data indicate a worsening situation. In fact, approximately 300,000 deaths each year in the U.S. may be attributed to obesity--staggering evidence that we must do something immediately!

Where Does Pilates Fit In Regard to Obesity?
Many people lead inactive lives; less than thirty percent of adults engage in the recommended thirty minutes of physical activity a day. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical activity is extremely helpful for the prevention of obesity and contributes to weight loss when combined with reduced caloric intake.

The quest for a long and healthy life, and the absolute necessity of such for those who are obese, is driving people to seek long-term health and lifestyle solutions. For this reason, millions of people are rejecting fad diets and exercise routines in favor of
preventative mind and body conditioning programs like Pilates. Pilates is one of the safest forms of exercise--highly adaptable to the special needs of the individual--making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Moreover, doctors, physical therapists, and athletes embrace Pilates for its comprehensive approach to health and fitness.

How Can Pilates Affect Change on the Obesity Trend?
Many Americans--specifically the overweight and obese--begin exercise regimens to improve their current weight and health. Unfortunately, they begin high impact
routines that are too intense, leaving them frustrated, unmotivated, and still overweight.

Pilates consists of a series of exercises, including concentrated attention on keeping
the body aligned, movements coordinated, and mind focused. Pilates offers many benefits, including a long, lean physique. The resistance work helps increase bone density and joint health, while the coordinated breathing opens up the lungs and diaphragm--in turn, decreasing the frequency of asthma attacks.

Pilates allows one to relax the mind and body while leaning and shaping the body as a whole. After just one session, many people notice mental-health changes as well. "Pilates makes you feel better about yourself
," Mari Winsor of Winsor Pilates states, "and more able to cope with stress and the rigors of life." With these benefits, Americans and others worldwide will be more inspired to maintain a workout routine, lose the weight, and keep it off!