• Pilates for children – get up and go!

    31st December 2015 | donaldt
  • “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. In order to achieve happiness, it is imperative to gain mastery of your body. If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old.If at 60 you are supple and strong then you are young.” Joseph Pilates

    The prevalence of childhood obesity in Malta has reached critical levels with obese children within the 5-10 years age group

    manifesting one or more cardiovascular risk factors. Regrettably, overweight children have a higher risk of health concerns later on in adulthood,such as bowel cancer, high blood pressure,heart attack, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. The psychological, physical and economic burden of the increased incidence of such chronic disease is one of the major challenges facing our society. Prevention, particularly in childhood is thus the cheapest and most effective strategy.

    One of the major cause of childhood obesity is the lack of exercise, classified by many as the daily sedentary behaviour adopted by most children. After school programs amongst many interventions have shown the potential to provide opportunities to increase the level of physical activity, promoting lifelong participation in physical fitness activities. Studies have shown that when children engage in an activity they enjoy,there is an increased chance of establishing a consistent active lifestyle later on in adulthood. Teaching our children the inclusion of healthy exercise from early stages of their development, is gift the child will endure throughout their life.

    How can Pilates help?

    Pilates is a low impact method of exercise which provides an alternative regimen to enhance physical fitness.It gives children a “different” kind of physical activity because it can be done anywhere on a mat or on a ball whilst making use of various types of small equipment. It provides a fun form of physical activity keeping the effective means to increase enjoyment and participation in exercise child’s interest high. Pilates has in fact been proven to be an for children.

    The essential concept of Pilates is the strengthening of the core i.e. awareness.The ability to develop body awareness at a young age helps to ward off pain, poor stability and mobility that comes along the powerhouse of the body and the development of body with habitual poor posture further on in adulthood.

    Pilates provides children with an enjoyable way to enhance physical fitness, promote good posture and spinal flexibility to counteract the poor habitual movement patterns and posture associated with daily sedentary behaviour. It also enhances co-ordination, balance and joint flexibility providing children with the basis behind structured and flowing movement required to support sports such as dances, swimming and football amongst other recreational activities. It helps the child to develop good mind-muscle connection as they grow. The increased body awareness also enable the child to grow self confidence and be sensitive towards others.

    The combination of Pilates alongside a well-planned weight management programme could thus provide a stepping stone to overcoming childhood obesity.

    by Bernice Azzopardi Physiotherapist & Pilates Instructor