Changes in body composition are major problems that middle-aged people often experience. These include an increase in body fat mass and muscle weakness. These alterations are associated with various health conditions, including loss of physical function, reduced motor control, as well as back pain. Most of the time, the body fats tend to accumulate in the abdominal region. This causes the spine to curve and the center of gravity to shift forward, resulting in back pain, poor posture, and an increased risk of falling. The fats can also reduce mobility by interfering with motor control, which involves a complex network of nerves and neurons that facilitate the movement of information from the brain to the spinal cord and then to the skeletal muscles.
By participating in physical exercises, middle-aged people can improve their physical and mental health. Unfortunately, many old people are discouraged from working out because of pre-existing health conditions or lack of experience. Pilates, in particular, is a good exercise to start with since anyone can do it regardless of age, gender, or experience level. It can also easily be modified to fit what each person needs. This exercise also doesn't require special facilities and equipment, so it can be done almost anywhere. This program was designed to improve physical conditions such as strength, endurance, and flexibility. Moreover, doing Pilates also reduces stress, promotes a general sense of well-being, and enhances mental functions like attention and concentration.
In this study, published in Sleep and Hypnosis, researchers looked at how the motor control of middle-aged women who did Pilates varied from those who didn't. There were 43 participants in the study who were between the ages of 40 to 50 years old. They were selected based on the following qualifications: inactive, body fat percentage over 35, and waist-hip ratio exceeding 95 percent. For four months, participants assigned to do Pilates had to it three times a week, while those in the control group just had to live their lives like they normally do.
The parameters that researchers considered as the basis for motor control include obesity variables such as the percentage of body fat, waist-hip ratio, and visceral fat, as well as functional measures like walking speed and dynamic balance. After four months, the researchers observed significant improvements in obesity variables, as well as the dynamic balance and walking speed of women who did Pilates compared to those who didn't.
From these results, the researchers concluded that Pilates significantly improves motor control and its effects on the gait and posture of middle-aged women. This further proves that exercise is important for people to remain healthy as they age. (Related: Increasing your physical activity over 6 years in middle age significantly reduces your risk of heart failure.)
Learn more about how exercise can affect women's health by visiting WomensFitnessFocus.com today.