How Pilates Can Help Those Who Are Affected By Depression

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Sometimes life can just seem like it’s too much. When we have mindsets like that, we tend to get the feeling that our life is in a downward spiral and that we are losing control of ourselves. While that’s not always the case, it’s an overwhelming, depressing feeling that we can get that can lead us to have destructive thoughts and habits.


Is Pilates Good For Depression

Exercise has been shown, time and again, to have very positive effects on people suffering with depression and anxiety. One of the most beneficial (and unfortunately overlooked) forms of exercise to stave off depression is Pilates.

Pilates is a simple, low impact, and mind clearing workout that was developed by the German physical-culturist Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. Joseph actually wasn’t the one who named the workout after himself, though. When he developed it, he had named it “Contrology”, and it was later changed in honor of its creator. The workout helps those who practice it to develop core strength, endurance and flexibility, all while helping the exerciser to ease his/her mind. As an exercise of relaxation, many people have used Pilates to help overcome depression.

While other forms of exercise can help clear the mind, Pilates helps to actually ease the mind. You’re not focused on finishing off the last five minutes of a brutal run or getting in one more set on the physically draining bench press. Moira Merrithew, co-founder of Stott Pilates, believes that Pilates exercises perform moves that can almost massage the muscles. While you’re gaining muscular strength, you’ll also be relieving yourself of muscular tension, helping you become a more fit and relaxed person. While performing Pilates, you’re also relaxing your mind.

Using Pilates as a tool to control your mind is one of the primary ways that you can use to fight against depression. It requires a lot of focus and helps you feel like you’re in control of your life again. Suzanne Farrell, a ballerina from the 20th century, loved using Pilates. She once said about it,

Nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.

Many people enter into depression because they feel like they are losing control of their lives. With Pilates, you are required to mentally and physically control every aspect of the workout, giving you good mental practice to help you better control your life.

Speaking more about how Pilates can help those who are affected by depression, Alycea Ungaro, owner of Real Pilates in New York City and author of a book on Pilates, said,

Pilates can be a mental and emotional respite for those suffering from depression, anxiety or everyday stress. Pilates forces you to focus inward for the duration of the workout by concentrating on the detail, form and execution of each exercise. Pilates can rejuvenate the mind and restore the spirit. I sometimes think the benefits are almost in line with those of meditation…we work with individuals who have had bouts of depression and anxiety. These clients walk in with a look of tension, sometimes even despair. They respond in an enormously positive way. Anxiety and depression can be overwhelming. But when you see your own body performing healthy, active and elegant moves, it restores your faith and belief in what you can achieve. A healthy self-image is incredibly positive and enormously empowering.

She would go on to say that Pilates serves as a physical exercise, but a mental nap.The ability to control your body, become more flexible and get in better shape puts you at the helm of something that you didn’t have control over before: your mind and body. There is ample evidence to prove to us that Pilates is so much more than just another workout. In a world that can be difficult and overwhelming to live in, With the newfound confidence that Pilates gives you, the exercise can be a physical and mental escape especially for those who are suffering from depression.

For those who would like to consider Pilates as a low-impact form of depression-fighting exercise, start now. There are plenty of gyms that offer Pilates classes in most areas of the country. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine, and if the depression is clinical you’ll definitely want to find a psychologist that can help diagnose and treat depression. A great beginning, however, is Pilates. You don’t have to feel like you’re losing control anymore. Pilates has proven to be one of the best ways to regain control of your body, mind, and life.

Photo: Jeff Daly