Best Pilates Exercises for Better Health and Posture

Inspired by Joseph Pilates, are a series of movements geared at strengthening the postural and core muscles surrounding the spine.  After just a few short weeks of practicing Pilates, people mention they feel taller, are more aware of their posture and their jeans fit better. 

So what are a few Pilates moves you can do at home everyday to start your personal practice.  Here are a few of my favorites:  

The Roll Up - Start lying on your back with arms at your side.  Tuck your chin to your chest and slightly bend your knees as you roll up to a seated position.  Round the spine forward and stretch toward your toes.  Take a deep breath and slowly reverse the movement back down to the floor.  Practice breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth on all Pilates movements.

Leg Circles - Start lying on your back with one leg extended toward the ceilng.  Slowly draw circle across the body, towards the feet, out to the side and back to center.  Keep your pelvis stable and hands at your side for support.  Perform 8 circles clockwise and then 8 circles in the opposite direction.  Change legs and repeat.

Walk Out - Start standing and slowly curl down forward toward your toes. Walk your hands out to the floor and move the body forward to a plank position.  Bend the arms and lower the chest to the floor.  Leading with hips, tuck the chin down and walk the hands back toward the body to return to standing position.

Side Mermaid - Start on your side with knees slightly bent and one hand on the ground.  Extend the legs and press the hips upward as you reach up and over the body.  Hold for 2-3 counts and slowly return to seated position.

Belly Rocker - Start lying face down on the ground and bent your knees with feet toward the ceilng.  Reach back to your toes or use a towel around the ankles, and slowly rock the body forward and back.  Squeeze the glutes or back side muscles to release tension in the spine. Rock and roll for 10-12 repetitions.

Side Leg Swings - Start on your side with legs extended in a straight line, elbow on the floor.  Point the toe as you bring the leg forward and flex the foot on the back swing.  Keep hips and rib cage quiet as you inhale and swing the leg forward and exhale as you swing the leg backward.  Perform 8-12 repeitions on each side.

Swimming - This exercise is great for strengthening the lower back.  Start lying face down and lift opposite hand and foot.  Alternate lifts with a one, two, inhale, exhale, sequence.  Perform 20 repetitions.

The Teaser - Start in a seated, legs extended position with hands at your side.  Slowly, tuck the chin and rock back to shoulder blades allowing the legs to lift in the air.  Rock up to reach for toes.  Pause then return to seated position.

Try incorporating a few moves into each of your workouts or alternate them with a few minutes of walking for a tone and burn weight loss program.  Andrea Metcalf is a healthy lifestyle spokesperson and author of Naked Fitness.  Follow her @andreametcalf on twitter or Andrea Metcalf Health on facebook.  You can also try the Naked Fitness 28 day program on for free.


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