Pilates: Central Role in Cardiac Rehabilitation

Pilates and heart
The distinguishing characteristic of the Pilates system of exercise is its requirement of steady and controlled breathing. This is an integral part of the Joseph Pilates concept of "contrology" - the science and art of coordinated body-mind-spirit development through natural movements. Inasmuch, Pilates moderates the strain, jerkiness an anaerobic extremes that are frequently associated with such western forms of strength-oriented exercise as sprinting, weightlifting and plyometrics while incorporating the calm, control and concentration that characterize the eastern approach to exercise, as seen in such forms as Yoga and Tai Chi. The result is the best of both worlds:  Strength development and coordination enhanced with power and grace.

The benefits of Pilates are enormous in recovering from atrial fibrillation. Experimenting on myself with careful monitoring, I compared the result of an intensive 30-minute Pilates routine that included 26 exercises to a resistance routine that included 4 circuits of deadlifts, goblet squats, renegade pushups and weighted lunges whereas each exercise was performed at weights that enabled me to do ten reps in order to avoid straining my heart and pushing myself into anaerobic mode. In addition to the superior overall post-workout feeling of the Pilates routine, the results – which repeated themselves several times, were dramatic as we see in the following table:



Resistance Routine

Total Time[1]

30 minutes

30 minutes

Kcal burned



HR (heart-rate) Average

98 (65% of Max)

123 (82% of Max)

HR (heart-rate) Max

134 (90% of Max)

162 (108% of Max)

In/Out zone[2] (minutes)

28 / 2

5 / 25

The above table clearly shows how the Pilates routine was so much gentler to my body, yet without sacrificing training effectiveness. After the Pilates routine, my core felt stronger and my posture dramatically improved. In addition, I felt more invigorated than after the resistance routine. With Pilates, there's virtually no chance of over-training, which is my dangerous athletic evil inclination and that of many peak-performance-seeking athletes. Consequently, as I have proven to myself, I would surely incorporate Pilates as the prime and preferred form of exercise in any cardiac rehabilitation program.

Even if your heart is 100% healthy, do yourself a favor and enroll in a Pilates course. It will do wonders for your posture and your core strength, and it's gentle on the body. You won't burn as many calories as you do in high-intensity training, but your injury level will drop to zilch. My blessings for your good health and a continued wonderful Succoth!


[1] Includes warmup and cooldown for resistance routine; warmup and cooldown were an intrinsic part of Pilates routine

[2] The InZone = my target zone of 55-80% HR Max, OutZone = >80% HR Max (HR Max = 220-Age, in my case=150 bpm)

Pilates-Breathing: Bomb-Shelter Tested Stress Reliever

Breathe Bro 6.5
From here in the south of Ashdod, from the moment the Red Alert siren starts to wail, one has 32 seconds to get to a shelter or sheltered area. That's pretty luxurious, for our neighbors to the south in Ashkelon have only 22 seconds, while our brothers and sisters in the Sderot area have barely 14 seconds. It's no joke...

Now, once inside the shelter, there's a bigger challenge - staying calm, and calming the children. Words of emuna and encouragement, together with a nice chunk of Israeli chocolate, work wonders. 

Our children have just as effective radar as the Iron Dome missile defense does. They can immediately detect in adults' faces if there's reason to worry or not. That behooves all of us to stay extra calm.

How does one maintain inner calm and composure when missiles are exploding outside?

Earlier this evening, between 7:20 - 7:45 PM, was the heaviest series of missile barrages in Ashdod that I ever remember. It wasn't easy to stay calm, for the explosions we could hear outside were thunderous. But, I gave a breathing lesson to the parents and children of our building - it worked, and everyone maintained smiles. I taught them Pilatres breathing...

Pilates breathing is in itself a relaxing warmup that soothes body and soul. You take ten deep inhales through your nose, then slowly exhale ten times through your mouth until your lungs are totally emptied. Now repeat, and do this six times. Even better, put a rug or a Yoga mat on the floor, and as you inhale, arch your spine. As you exhale, do a "Pilates imprint" until there's no daylight between your spine and the floor. This way, you get a wonderful spine-massage benefit that's great for your posture and general good feeling. This type of breathing also promotes abdominal engagement, which the Pilates method is famous for.

This form of breathing is not only conducive to relaxation, but it's a stress-buster as well. If it works under rocket barrages in Ashdod, it will certainly help you neutralize your stress and anxiety anywhere else. So there you have it, bomb-shelter-tried and tested. Try it! May we all hear good news from each other, and blessings for a wonderful new month of Iyar. Every blessing, LB