Most people see very little redemptive value in the aging process; it is something to be endured, hopefully without too much pain or major disease before they die. The majority of people, even those who are “comparatively well” are resigned to a deterioration in their brain functioning, especially memory, as well as a gradual limiting of their physically based activities. Others, because of injury or various diseases, fare worst of all.
They become the forgotten population, increasingly more sedentary, with muscles atrophying, as they find everyday living activities even simple ones such as getting on and off the toilet, more difficult. Couple this with decreasing bone density and lack of core strength, they become an accident waiting to happen; falls resulting in broken ribs, or hips, become the fast track to being walker or wheelchair-bound.
As life becomes more sedentary and restricted, it also becomes less pleasurable, much lonelier and only antidepressants take the edge off living in a way that an elderly person seems to be only remembering the past with nostalgia, rather than being able to look forward to the future with joyful anticipation.
We all know people who seem to be remarkable for their age, alert and physically active, even engaged in demanding sports or marathons. The tendency is to chalk up those people as being genetically favored, “Alas that could never be me”. And with that mindset, our forgotten population seal their fate. But what if it doesn’t have to be this way?
The proposition of this paper is not that Pilates is a panacea for all the ailments of the human body, nor is it some magical source for the fountain of youth. Rather it is a conduit for both slowing down and reversing the aging process so that seniors can live more mobile, alert and ultimately happier lives.
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