Three Pilates exercises to strengthen your body against COVID-19
Since the beginning of our time, the human body has been constantly at war with bacteria and viruses. Keeping the immune system strong is something that we must work at every day of our lives. In this time of COVID-19, prevention is the most important thing we should be concerned with. Cleaning and keeping distance is, of course, paramount. But supporting our inner army is absolutely necessary. This is something we all need to be doing for COVID-19 and for all new, and old, viruses lurking in the world.
Pilates exercises can help to prevent getting sick from COVID-19 (and all viruses) or minimizing illness if you catch it. As a plus, Pilates will assist with good sleep, reduced stress and make you feel overall better. The four main recommendations for staying strong against viruses are to sleep well, eat healthy, reduce stress and exercise. By practicing Pilates, you are getting help with most of these categories.
Circulation and Muscle Tone
Good circulation in the body is necessary to maintain healthy blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. The lungs, heart and brain all need proper blood flow to function optimally. White blood cells need good transportation around the body to fight off potential disease. Efficient circulation helps eliminate waste created by the organs.
If the body has poor circulation and low muscle tone, the waste is not cleared out, the oxygen is not distributed and the white blood cells are not transported throughout the body to fight diseases. The muscular system also helps move fluids through the body. Muscles act a secondary pumps to pump blood back up to the heart. If there is low muscle tone, the veins lack assistance from the muscles in getting the blood up the body.
Poor circulation and low muscle tone are risk factors relating to getting sick from viruses.
Pilates is a whole body and mind conditioning system. All of the exercises in the system help with whole body conditioning for better function. However, we can pick and choose from the hundreds of exercises to find ones that focus on different aspects of conditioning. Here are three that will assist with circulation and muscle tone.
To get into position, lie on your back on a mat or bed with your knees bent, feet on the floor/mat, keep knees and feet together. Arms extended straight out by your sides, about 8 inches from the floor. Begin pumping your straight arms up and down using your triceps. Try to pump the arms vigorously, about two pumps per second. Inhale through the nose for five pumps and exhale for five pumps for a total 5 to 10 breath cycles.
Try not to let your body shake as you pump. Squeeze your stomach on the exhale to work the core and the diaphragm.
When you are finished, relax your arms by your sides and feel the circulation through your body. Also feel the muscles in your arms and stomach.
The Double Bent Leg Stretch
Lie on a mat or bed and bend your knees into your chest. Grasp your shins or ankles. Reach your arms over your head and extend your legs up as you inhale deeply. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your abs pulled in as you reach your arms and legs in opposite directions. Stretch your body, keep your toes pointed and squeeze your inner thighs. Open your arms a little to make a V shape, hold your breath. Sweep your arms out to the sides as you exhale, bend your knees back in, reaching around to grasp your shins. Deepen your abs and hug your knees in to your body as you empty your lungs. Repeat this 3-5 times. Rest with your feet on the floor, knees bent. (You can lift your head and keep it up during this exercise to deepen your stomach muscles, but be careful of your neck.)
Feel the muscles of your legs, arms and stomach. Feel your heightened heart rate and your blood flowing through your body.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
Lie on a mat or bed with your knees bent in to your chest. Hug your knees and take a nice deep breath. Straighten your legs up to the ceiling. Point your toes. Grasp your right leg/thigh wherever it is comfortable. Pull that straight leg in to your chest. Use your stomach to bring the leg closer in. Lower your left leg slightly towards the floor. Using your abdominals, switch legs like a scissors and grab the left leg and stretch it in to you. Keep both legs straight. Repeat for 5 sets. If you feel strong, lift your head up for some, or all, of the reps. Rest your head if it is tired.
When you are finished, rest your feet down with your knees bent, rest your head, arms by your sides. Feel the abdominal strength, the leg muscles, the arms and even the ankles and feet. Strengthening legs and abs, moving the blood through the body and increasing heart rate.
Do these exercises every day, it takes just a few minutes, and help support your inner army to protect you against the flu and other germs that are always around us. See Part two for exercises that will support the Lymphatic System.