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The number one New Year’s resolution of Americans is to get healthier and exercise more.  Gyms and fitness classes are filled to the brim with people in their shiny new clothing trying to get in shape and adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Pilates and yoga are two of the most popular classes, and devotees will each argue that their class is better, which begs the question: which is better?

The answer is a very simple one when it comes to exercise.  The best exercise is the one you enjoy doing and actually stick with.  That preference may vary and change over time, which is totally OK.  Mixing things up not only prevents boredom but works different muscle groups.  This keeps your body from being bored.  If you are considering trying yoga or Pilates this year and are wondering which one is “better,” take a look at some of the unique characteristics of each.

Yoga

Ultimate goal
Yoga offers a meditative environment that centers on building spiritual health while simultaneously building flexibility as well as physical and mental strength.  During yoga poses, muscles are stretched and strengthened.  This creates flexibility so that the body can sit easily for long periods in meditation.  Yoga is not limited to a class and is meant to permeate your daily life. 

Will this help me lose weight?
Although you will not be burning enough calories to lose weight, your cortisol level will drop.  Cortisol is that nasty stress hormone that causes your body to hold on to fat.  

Putting out fires
Fun fact: Yoga has been shown to reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes by 30 percent.  If you suffer from these, run to the yoga studio faster than you can say, “downward dog.”

Pilates

Ultimate goal
Pilates is all about building a stronger body, starting at the core and working outward.  Through resistance exercises, Pilates elongates the spine, strengthens the stomach, and creates lean muscle.

Will this help me lose weight?
Your body maybe feeling a burn, but beginners will not get their heart rate up enough for a true aerobic workout.  If your goal is to lose weight, then you will need to take advanced classes at least 4 days a week.

Biggest myth
Many people are under the impression that Pilates “lengthens” your muscles.  Not so.
Although muscles are not capable of growing longer, increased core strength and improved posture do make the body appear leaner and taller.

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