31st Oct 2020
Summer is a distant memory and it’s time to prioritise feeling healthy, strong and ready to take on anything winter throws our way. So we asked Milena Jaksic of Platinum Pilates for her advice for a movement programme we can do at home
These days, the notion of anti-ageing has a much broader definition than what the potions and lotions in our bathrooms promise to deliver. Emotional wellbeing and exercise are intrinsically linked to how we look, and an internal sense of balance and wellness can do so much more for the ageing process than an expensive pot of cream.
In fact, our spine health can actually determine our physical age. As we get older, our discs dehydrate, allowing for more wear-and-tear on the joints, so regular movement keep discs hydrated. Lack of movement means the discs become dehydrated, compressed, lose their function, and well, age. And it’s not just the spine that needs to move – all the muscles, joints and tissue thrive with movement too.
Studies by the American Physiology Society shows that the muscles of older men and women who have exercised for decades had much higher aerobic capacities than most people their age, making them biologically 30 years younger than their chronological ages.
When people take up pilates, the common response is that they love how it makes them feel – full of energy, free in their body and strong in the middle. It improves flexibility, reduces mental stress and fatigue and improves strength. But a huge benefit alongside helping our spines stay young is that it also improves our moods.
Whether that’s down to all that juicy anti-ageing spine movement, the hour of headspace that a class brings to your mind, or just the free feeling in your body that ten minutes of Pilates movement can bring, we’ll take it all.
These three anti-ageing movements to do on a mat at home (or in a class setting on a reformer machine for more intensity) will not only boost your mood but will also keep our bodies young inside and out.
Great for: This stretch is excellent for lengthening and opening the side body.
It’s also great for working on postural problems caused by weight-bearing too heavily on one side, like if you always carry your bag on one side or a child on one hip.
How to: Sit in a Z-Sit position with your feet to one side. Start with the right side. Try to level your bum on the mat as much as you can. You may feel one side slightly more lifted than the other – that’s okay to start with, after time you will feel more level as you get more familiar with the move.
Place both hands by each side and one arm at a time, reach up and over to the opposing side. Once you have gone as far as you can on one side, reach for the other side.
Take your time counting to five slowly each time, taking deep, controlled breaths along the way.
Repeat between six to 12 times.
The Side Plank
Great for: Loading the spine laterally activates and strengthens muscles that lose their power through lack of movement.
Waking up the side seams of the body can help strengthen the spine, improve concentration, and even improve posture helping you stand taller and giving you a more elongated silhouette.
Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Hold the position without letting your hips drop, then repeat on the other side.
Repeat six times on each side if you can.
Great for: We spend way too much time sitting down and looking down at our phones, so this is the perfect counter balancing move. Aesthetically, as we age, our face begins to droop so the more lifted we can keep our head neck and shoulders, the better chance we have to keep our skin taut and lifted.
How to: Lie on your mat, tummy down. Place your hands gently on the mat under your shoulders.
Stretch your legs all the way out on the mat. Gently, press the hands into the mat and start to lift your chest upwards, lifting your gaze at the same time. Once you can’t ascend any further, gently start to lower your chest to the floor, breathing deeply as you go.
Repeat this up to 12 times.
Follow Milena’s movement programme for complete body and mind workouts for all stages.
Read more: I tried a sound bath
Read more: How yoga has helped my running
Read more: How can yoga really help me?
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