</P> Pilates and other forms of mind/body exercise are well known for increasing flexibility, strength and body awareness. Other great benefits are relaxation, stress reduction and anxiety relief.
Make Your Heart Happy
Pilates and other forms of mind/body exercise are well known for increasing flexibility, strength and body awareness. Other great benefits are relaxation, stress reduction and anxiety relief. A recent study also shows stress reduction strategies play a role in keeping a healthy heart. Researchers from the Department of Psychology at Ohio State University took a look at the body's ability to clear fat from the blood when in both stressful and non-stressful situations. Not surprisingly, stress was found to significantly diminish fat clearance in the blood. Not only does the body maintain elevated blood fat levels when stressed, it also responds by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar-all factors that can lead to heart disease. To control these physiological responses to stress, consider Pilates or other exercise that allows for relaxation and calmness-not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.
Psychophysiology, 39(1): 80-85
Does body weight matter, even if you are fit? This question is the subject of ongoing debate among health experts. But a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (2002; 156: 832-841) says weight does indeed matter, even if you exercise on a regular basis. While exercise does increase health in overweight people, it doesn't cancel out the health risks associated with increased body fat. The study found that normal-weight, fit people lived the longest. Those who were fit but overweight had an increased risk of death by 32 per cent for women and 25 per cent for men. Those who were unfit and slender increased their risk by 30 per cent for women and 44 per cent for men. The last group, unfit and overweight, had the greatest increased risk of death-57 per cent for women and 49 per cent for men. In a nutshell? You need to be both slim and fit to expect to live to your maximum life expectancy.
Easy Does It!
If you're a beginning exerciser or if you've been sedentary for a while, it's better to start off your new fitness program slowly rather than jump in with both feet. A recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology took a look at the effects of strenuous exercise on sedentary but otherwise healthy men, focusing on the formation of blood clots, particularly in the coronary arteries, during and after moderate and strenuous exercise. While moderate exercise did not affect arterial blood clotting, strenuous exercise increased chances of clot formation by an average of 20 per cent. These findings further support the "start slowly and build gradually" recommendation of qualified fitness professionals. It's particularly important to adopt this approach if you are sedentary, with risk factors for heart disease such as elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and excess body fat. And if you start slowly, you're far more likely to stick with your new program and enjoy the health benefits.
Journal of Applied Physiology, 93: 829-33