Children and Pilates? When it comes to choosing sports for your child to participate in, Pilates is probably very low on the list. Yet Pilates offers so many health benefits, both physically and mentally, that mean children should give it a go.
Children’s health if often compromised due to a lack of physical activity, a culture of convenience, and increased screen time on phone, computers, tablets and television. Many are reliant solely on school PE lessons and do very little physical activity outside of school. Whilst for other children, sports are a part of their daily life, with school clubs and extra-curricular activities too. Whatever group your child falls into, Pilates could have a really positive effect on your child health and fitness.
So, what are the benefits of Pilates and how can it help your child?
Pilates helps develop flexibility in a child’s muscles and tendons. This increase in flexibility is ideal to improve performance in sports such as gymnastics and dance.
Pilates improves core strength and muscular strength and is vital for a child’s growing bodies and developing bone structure.
Focusing on the principle of breathing patterns during Pilates exercises will help to develop a child’s ability to concentrate and focus – both of which could see improvements in concentration during class time.
Often a child’s school bag weighs a ton, and is bigger than themselves, coupled with an increase in screen time, and slouching in chairs. This could be presenting in your child with back pain, neck stiffness, or headaches. Pilates can help improve spinal alignment, and muscular strength in the core and back. It can also teach good posture for sitting and standing.
Pilates can aid cardiovascular fitness, and general fitness through strengthening the core, back, and upper and lower bodies too.
Pilates can provide an increased awareness of the body as it changes and grows through puberty. It can increase self-esteem, stamina, endurance and confidence as the body strengthens and posture improves. And it can decrease anxiety and stress, through busy exam times at school, or other life stresses that children bottle up.
Pilates can be adapted to keep a group of children entertained, the challenge of stretching further or balancing the longest against friends can be a huge incentive for a child to succeed.
In the words of Joseph Pilates, “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young” So give your child a head start at staying flexibly young! Hopefully this helps any parents wondering if their child should do Pilates. There are so many health benefits of Pilates, all of which apply to a child’s growing body and mind also. So, bring them to class with you, to try a Mermaid, Rolling into a Ball, an Elephant, or making a Bridge. You will be amazed at how they can respond and what they could achieve from taking part in a class.
Written by Rhea Malkin BSc (Hons) Sports Therapist MSST and STOTT/APPI Pilates Instructor.