If you’re a beginner looking for a new exercise routine, Pilates is the ideal activity for boosting fitness and it may even help you to combat stress. 

This core-focused discipline was created by German physical trainer Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century and was originally known as “contrology.” Now named after its creator, Pilates is a method of whole body exercise designed to improve daily activities. Well-known for its weight management and wellness benfits, Pilates is a firm favourite with celebrities including Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston and fitness queen herself, Madonna. 


Many of us find the winter weather an obstacle to exercise as going for a jog in a force 9 gale is far from appealing. Luckily, Pilates can be done in the comfort of your own central heated abode and as a low-impact exercise, it’s highly accessible for beginners. As you gain more confidence, the moves can be extended and developed to match your level. 

Pilates as a stress-buster

Alongside improved posture, strengthened bones and better balance, pilates has also been shown to improve mental health and reduce stress. This is especially relevant in these unprecendented times. Throughout the pandemic, not being able to connect with friends and family as we normally would and the mountain of anxiety arising from the news has made many of us experience feelings of loss, loneliness and general low mood. There is (finally) a light at the end of the tunnel, but too many of us are feeling stressed right now.

The connection between the exercise mat and your mental health is real, says fitness expert Laura Williams. Research has shown time and again that exercise can play a significant role in helping manage anxiety, boost mood and increase resilience via numerous, complex processes.

“Pilates ticks many of the mental health boxes,” says Williams. “For a start, the concentration required to get the simplest-looking moves right will help keep your mind occupied and help you switch off.”

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And the slow, precise movement is surprisingly soothing: “As you focus and use limbs at a slower pace, your breathing tends to slow too, which has a big calming effect,” she adds.

“And let’s not forget that core focus: some of these moves require serious abdominal control, which will soon distract you from other concerns.”

These five go-to, mind-soothing moves work wonders for strengthening, stretching and switching off.

1. Shoulder bridge

The shoulder bridge is a great Pilates exercise for beginners. (Claire Spreadbury/PA)

1. Lie on your back with your legs bent.

2. Lift your hips and back off the mat and come up onto your shoulders.

3. Advanced version: extend arms behind you as you come up onto your shoulders. Extend one leg out in front of you and lower towards the ground, twice.

4. Repeat five times.

2. Single leg circle

Pilates is great for building core-strength. (Claire Spreadbury/PA)

1. Lie on your back with one leg resting on the ground and the other extended above your hip.

2. Sweep your leg out to the side and circle back to the starting position.

3. Do five circles in each direction. Change sides.

4. Minimise movement in the torso: use abdominals to keep your back flat.

3. Kneeling side kick

Side-kicks and other Pilates moves are great for getting fit at home The shoulder bridge is a great Pilates exercise for beginners (Claire Spreadbury/PA)
Side-kicks and other Pilates moves are great for getting fit at home. (Claire Spreadbury/PA)

1. Resting your weight on your left leg and left arm, place your right hand behind your head.

2. Extend your right leg out at hip height, and sweep forwards before pulsing for a count of two.

3. Sweep your leg back behind you and pulse for a count of two.

4. Do eight kick cycles in total, before switching sides.

4. The Saw

The regulated breathing and mindful movements of Pilates could help reduce stress. Side-kicks and other Pilates moves are great for getting fit at home The shoulder bridge is a great Pilates exercise for beginners (Claire Spreadbury/PA)
The regulated breathing and mindful movements of Pilates could help reduce stress. (Claire Spreadbury/PA)

1. Sitting upright with arms outstretched, rotate your upper body to the left.

2. Sweep your left hand to right toes, before returning to the centre.

3. Repeat on the other side.

4. Perform five ‘saws’ to each side.

5. Hip twist

Improving flexibility and reducing back pain are just two of the many benefits reaped by Pilates fans. (Claire Spreadbury/PA)

1. From a seated position, extend your arms behind you and your legs out in front of you.

2. Sweep your legs around and down in a circular movement, switching direction at the top.

3. Do a total of 10 circles.

4. Modified version: bend elbows, placing more weight on the arms and shoulders for support.

Best-selling Pilates mats

Check out our list of best-selling pilates mats on Amazon

SaleBestseller No. 1
Core Balance Pilates Mat, Extra Thick Foam 10mm, Non Slip, Exercise Fitness Yoga, Compact...
  • EXTRA-THICK FOR CUSHIONING & COMFORT: Experience ultimate comfort when you’re working out with the Core Balance Pilates & Exercise Mat. Designed with a depth of 10mm, it’s almost double the...
  • HIGH-DENSITY NBR FOAM FOR SUPERIOR CUSHIONING & COMFORT: The mat is made from high-density 10mm thick NBR foam to deliver superior cushioning when you’re working out. This helps to reduce the impact...
  • TEXTURED NON-SLIP DESIGN FOR A CONFIDENT WORKOUT: Our NBR mat has a special textured base with a unique groove pattern for greater grip and traction. By preventing it slipping and sliding on smooth...
Bestseller No. 2
XN8 Padded Exercise Yoga Mat-NBR 15mm Thick with Carry Handle Strap for...
  • Exercise with ease using Xn8 Sports thick padded yoga mat. Its 15mm cushioning serves the right kind of comfort you need during your yoga session. Use it at your home or take it to the gym for...
  • It is crafted using high-quality NBR foam material which ensures its durability and comfort. This yoga mat is free of latex and other harmful materials. Thus, it is a perfect yoga mat for both indoor...
  • This multipurpose exercise mat’s non-slip surface prevents it from sliding under you on any tile, wooden or cement floor. Also, it withstands through sweat and helps you maintain your posture during...
SaleBestseller No. 3
REEHUT Exercise Mat NBR Fitness Yoga Mats - 12mm Extra Thick High-Density Multi-Purpose Mat for...
  • 71"X24" (180x61cm) wide mat ensures comfort for all-purpose. With high density foam NBR material, the 1/2'' Thickness premium mat comfortably cushions spine, hips, knees and elbows on hard floors
  • With double sided texture surfaces, REEHUT premium exercise yoga mat comes with an excellent slip resistant advantage to prevent injuries
  • A free yoga mat strap is included. Lightweight and portable, it is great for travel and easy to store. Ideal for yoga, Pilates, stretching and toning workouts
Bestseller No. 4
JLL® Yoga Mat Extra Thick 15mm Non-Slip Pilates Workout Exercise Mat available in Black / Blue /...
  • Extra Thick High Quality Yoga Mat and Complete Yoga Essentials Set
  • Size: 183cm x 61cm (72 inch x 24inch), 15mm Thick.
  • These mats have a non slip traction, smooth texture foam surface and can be bought individually or as part of a yoga set.
SaleBestseller No. 5
TOPLUS Yoga Mat, Classic Pro Yoga Mat TPE Eco Friendly Non Slip Fitness Exercise Mat with Carrying...
8,753 Reviews
TOPLUS Yoga Mat, Classic Pro Yoga Mat TPE Eco Friendly Non Slip Fitness Exercise Mat with Carrying...
  • Eco Friendly Material –TPE is the latest technological improvement to the traditional yoga mats. No latex, no PVC, non-toxic or any harmful chemicals. Get a healthy yoga mat for yourself.
  • Non-slip Yoga Mat–Double layer structure design provides optimal grip, excellent cushioning and double-sided non-slip texture, best suitable to practice many forms of Yoga. Non slip on wood floor,...
  • Perfect Performance –0.6CM thick professional yoga mat with high-density, great supporting and quick spring-back is suitable for various yoga movements. 6mm mat offers the most comfortable...

Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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