Rehabilitation and Recovery

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:

Parameter

Pilates

Resistance Routine

Total Time[1]

30 minutes

30 minutes

Kcal burned

158

256

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!

Footnotes:

[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)