The temperature is dropping and the flu warnings are out. Here comes winter.
The cold season is traditionally the hardest season for getting active – too rugged up, too cold, too hard… and is the most likely season we will succumb to colds and flu.
It doesn’t have to be though.
This winter stay healthy using the Pilates method as a natural preventative measure to keep yourself warm inside and out, and keep your immune system boosted. It works.
Joseph Pilates developed his method to be both a physical workout and a health measure. One of his greatest claims was that when he was interned on the Isle of Man for 18 months during the second world war, none of his fellow inmates succumbed to the deadly flu epidemic that killed prisoners of war in every other camp. He worked daily with his fellow detainees to keep them well, and engineered ways to rig springs on beds in order to rehabilitate the injured and support good health and fitness.
Pilates has sound science-based effects on the internal systems as much as it does the musculoskeletal system. Yep, it will make us look good – tighten abs, lengthen the spine, improve posture. But the unseen, deep and health providing effects of doing Pilates are immeasurable.
Pilates exercises, while including the major muscle groups of the whole body, focus the work of the intrinsic muscles of the body which sit deep within joints and internal structures. Being able to work into these deep regions means that we will create much deeper circulatory responses and movement of fluids like lymph that clean out our bodies of toxins. It also offers us a direct stimulatory effect on internal organs, and thereby stimulation of the functions and chemical responses of systems such as the respiratory, digestive and endocrine systems, which have a direct effect on our immunity and wellbeing.
It is also easy to see how that deep internal focus will provide warmth from the deepest layers of the body outward, and create internal heat as well as metabolic stimulation. It’s win win!
Here is a Pilates Method prescription to help you stay warm and well this winter.
This is most important. Do a morning warm up sequence to move all the joints in your body, increase circulation of your blood and oxygen around your body, increase lymphatic circulation to remove toxins from the bodies tissues, and create internal metabolic heat.
A simple 5-10 minute Pilates sequence such as this Pilates warm up routine will set up your whole body to function most efficiently as well as energise you and warm you up.
During the Day
Do 3-5 Pilates exercises at regular intervals during the day. If you’ve been sitting for a while, if you feel yourself getting cold, or even at break times just before you have lunch or a snack.
Ideally you will do this set of simple exercises 2-3 times throughout the day.
You can choose 3-5 exercises from the Warm Up sequence to repeat during the day or, have a Pilates teacher provide you with 3-5 exercises that are tailored for you, no matter if you are in an office, park, home, plane or anywhere else. There’s always a way to integrate movement.
Keep in mind to move with an internal focus, using Pilates method concepts like ‘scooping’ in of your abdominals, lengthening your spine, breathing deeply.
During the Week
Do a supervised Pilates session or 2 .. or 3. Having a qualified Pilates teacher make sure you are doing the exercises correctly will give progressive changes and challenges appropriate to your body. You can do Matwork or specialized equipment work in a Pilates studio – choose a format that suits your schedule and your budget, and let the teacher help you find correct movement patterning and the deep connections that you can then find yourself at home in your morning warm up.
There is a ‘method’ to getting the work properly into your body, so having live tuition really helps. Plus you’ll be inside, warm, active, and keeping the winter chills away.
I recommend a few complimentary tips that are easy to do and pack a punch for immune boosting and toxin clearing.
- Put lemon or lime slices into filtered or spring water and sipping it throughout the day. As much as you can. Warm water is even better.
- Get some sunshine whenever you can, and however it works best for you.
- Eat warm, nourishing foods. Like vegetable soups and stews, curries, and grains. Think of eating seasonally – warm foods, root vegetables, spices – are all perfect in winter.
To quote Joe Pilates, doing his method is the equivalent of an “internal shower”, and makes your blood move with ‘renewed vigour’!
What a great way to stay warm and well in winter.
About the author
Sally Anderson is often referred to as ‘Australia’s expert in Pilates’. A renowned author, Pilates educator and guest speaker on the subject of Pilates on the global circuit, Sally is the founder and director of Pilates International, which incorporates both the Pilates International Studios and the government accredited teacher training centre, PilatesITC.