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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Why I Love Pilates

Why the decades' old program is timelier now than ever.

Pilates class.As a young man in the early part of the 20th century, Joseph Pilates was a true visionary. His discipline, now known the world over as Pilates, but originally termed Contrology, is an amalgam of yoga, gymnastics, and kinesiology designed to coordinate, in his words, “body, mind, and spirit.”

According to Mr. Pilates, “physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Furthermore, he cautioned that “incorrect habits are responsible for most of our ailments—if not all of them.” Pilates’ books were first published in 1934 and 1945, yet his message is timelier now than ever.

Pilates began his program with a set of 34 exercises that could be performed on the mat. Later, he developed several specialized pieces of equipment that were designed to allow exercises that could isolate and strengthen specific muscles. He stressed the importance of not merely building bulky muscles, but rather, striving for flexibility by developing all of the muscles in symmetry. He believed that many of our modern woes are directly related to our posture, and that by improving the flexibility of the spine, un-rounding our shoulders, and strengthening our core, our mental and physical health could be dramatically improved.

Pilates also stressed the importance of diet and sleep, as well as the concept of carving out time in the day for relaxation, sunshine, and fresh air. He recognized the dangers of excessive body fat, and the burden this could put on all the organs, including the heart.

I found my way to Pilates several years ago. (I train at Get ReFormed Pilates in Frisco, Texas). I can honestly say that it has improved the quality of my life and helped me tremendously in other athletic endeavors. Pilates doesn’t replace aerobic exercise, but it is a perfect complement to it. The philosophy of physical fitness reflecting the unity of body, mind, and spirit, and allowing a “well-balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living” is truly one we can all take to heart.

For more of Joseph Pilates’ wisdom, check out his book, A Pilates’ Primer: The Millennium Edition.

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Tags: Exercise , Stress and the Heart

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.