Apart from the general optimal functioning of the body i.e. physiologically and basic joint mobility through simple activities such as walking, there is an increased risk of developing health problems such as cancer, reduced insulin sensitivity which is a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, lower back pain, neck stiffness, obesity and restless legs associated with living a sedentary lifestyle.
Your Pilates instructor will teach you good postural alignment techniques for both standing and sitting positions. This will ensure good posture and correct head/shoulder/neck alignment which is essential to prevent chronic neck, shoulder and back problems as well as headaches.
Prolonged sedentary activity such as office work and driving and the associated physical effects can be improved by monitoring and introducing short breaks to stand, stretch, and even do some Pilates postures and exercises.
According to a review study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine regardless of regular exercise “More than one half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television, or working at a computer,” said Dr. David Alter, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, University Health Network (UHN) and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. “Our study finds that despite the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk for disease.”
In “Recommendations for Physical Activity in Older Adults”, Professor Phillip Sparling and colleagues write: “There is now a clear need to reduce prolonged sitting. Secondly, evidence on the potential of high intensity interval training in managing the same chronic diseases, as well as reducing indices of cardio metabolic risk in healthy adults, has emerged. This vigorous training typically comprises multiple 3-4 minute bouts of high intensity exercise interspersed with several minutes of low intensity recovery, three times a week.
Between these two extremes of the activity spectrum is the mainstream public health recommendation for aerobic exercise… 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more… However, many people, especially in older age groups, find it hard to achieve this level of activity. We argue that when advising patients on exercise doctors should encourage people to increase their level of activity by small amounts rather than focus on the recommended levels. The 150 minute target, although warranted, may overshadow other less concrete elements of guidelines. These include finding ways to do lower intensity lifestyle activity”. Regular Pilates classes and daily practice of Pilates exercises is therefore vital to everyone with or without the extra higher intensity exercise options.
The hazards of our modern sedentary lifestyle were highlighted in a two-part series of Article 7 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published at the beginning of January 2015 where it was suggested that public policy needs to be reassessed to focus on increasing body movement during work hours.