Master trainer and co-founder of X-Club Pilates Amanda Baracho explained that menopause brings many changes in a woman’s body, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, sleep disturbances and weight gain. Luckily, the latter is the easiest one to prevent and one of the most effective ways to do this is by practising Pilates, which can also “help manage the other symptoms associated with this stage of life”.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that focuses on working the body as a whole, strengthening the muscles, improving the mind and body connection, increasing flexibility and improving posture.
According to Amanda, through a series of controlled and precise movements combined with breathing techniques, Pilates can help women lose menopausal weight in a matter of months, and the best part is that it can be practised at home.
Main benefits of Pilates
“One of the main benefits of Pilates for menopausal women is that it can help improve bone density,” the expert explained, which is key during menopause, as women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
Pilates is a low-impact resisted exercise that “can help strengthen not only your muscles but your bones too”.
Performing the exercises twice a week for six months can “significantly improve bone density,” the Pilates guru revealed.
How can Pilates help menopausal women lose weight?
Amanda explained that during menopause, there are five main contributors for weight gain:
- Hormonal changes
- Reduced metabolism
A Pilates practice “can offer a solution to support weight loss” for each of these when practised on a regular basis.
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Combat weight gain caused by hormonal changes
During menopause, there is a decrease in the production of the hormone oestrogen which can lead to a redistribution of body fat, “with more fat being stored in the abdominal area”. Pilates is “a great all-over body workout, but it can also be tailored to target specific areas of the body, such as the abdominal muscles or thighs”.
By focusing on specific exercises women can see targeted weight loss in those areas. The best workouts are Leg Circles, The Hundred and Scissor Kicks.
Combat weight gain caused by reduced metabolism
As women age, their metabolism tends to slow down making it more difficult to lose weight, but Pilates can “help improve muscle mass, which can in turn, boosts metabolism”.
Amanda explained: “The resistance training you practice during Pilates is also scientifically proven to build lean muscle tissue which burns more calories than fat.”
Combat weight gain caused by lifestyle
Changes such as reduced physical activity, poor sleep quality and changes in diet can contribute to weight gain.
Pilates can help women maintain their physical fitness, plus is a low-impact exercise, meaning that women can continue to exercise even if they have physical limitations.
“Therefore, it’s a method that can be adapted to any age or ability as part of a healthy lifestyle,” Amanda said.
Combat weight gain caused by stress
The trainer and Pilates expert explained that stress can lead to an increase in cortisol, a hormone that can contribute to weight gain.
Pilates “emphasises deep breathing and relaxation techniques that can help reduce stress levels and produce ‘feel good’ hormones that will also contribute to better sleep”.
Combat weight gain caused by genetics
Unfortunately, some women may be more predisposed to weight gain during menopause due to their genetics but Pilates is a practice that “helps women maintain their physical fitness and prevent weight gain”.
However, Amanda warned that Pilates alone may not be sufficient to prevent weight gain and “an adequate nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy weight”.
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