Sun 08th November 2020

Let’s Keep Flushing: How Pilates is boosting your immune system

As Liz, my family and many of my clients know I am self-diagnosed Chronically Curious. Especially about all things movement based. During our half term break I have begun immersing myself in the work of a marvellous woman called Katy Bowman and am stuffing (painfully slowly for an inpatient person) a good decade’s worth of brilliant ideas and thoughts about movement into my ever-expanding movement brain. And then instantly trying to regurgitate it before I forget the genius bits (or knowledge vomiting as I think I perhaps misguidedly said in a class the other week…sorry to those peeps..)

Katy B is a bio-mechanist and movement teacher who has developed her work centred around her understanding of the body’s mechanics and is dedicated to better movement for everybody: reminding us of our primal routes. Her favourite piece of exercise equipment is the floor. She’s our kinda gal. Much of what she says makes Total Obvious Sense but fittingly for these challenging times, she recently reminded me of the benefits of movement on our immune system.

If ‘what are the benefits of Pilates?’ was a question on Family Fortunes/Pointless (*delete as appropriate depending on age), ‘boosting the immune system’ would most likely be trumped by answers including the words ‘core’, ‘back pain’, ‘tone’, ‘mindfulness’. But the impact of Pilates and just moving on your immune system is, well, essential. So, basically, here we go:

  1. Your lymphatic system helps to flush out toxins from the body.
  2. You have to get all your muscles to move ideally in their full range of motion in order for the lymphatic system to move most effectively.
  3. Key points for the lymphatic system in the body are the neck, armpits and groin.

Q: Where do we carry most of our tension…?
A: Neck, shoulders, hips.

Yup, when our ancestors were all tribal, not that long ago really in our evolution history, we were brilliantly designed for flushing what with all the looking and walking and running and hunting and reaching and squatting. No desk jobs, rear parking sensors, Ocado deliveries and comfy sofas.  I’ve said before we are adaptable but not always in a good way.

Now I know, particularly this winter, we don’t really want to all go back to being totally tribal. It’s not realistic, even in lockdown. So, what can you do?

We can insure that we move those joints as much as we can. Obviously, Liz and I make sure we cover it all in your classes. We’ve got your back and your immune system covered, plus so much more.  But for the other 167 hours of your week you can do as much as you can. How?

  • Walk. Uphill and downhill. Upstairs and downstairs. Not even fast. Take your time and breathe*
  • Stop. Look around at the view, at the floor, near and in the distance
  • Do some shoulder rolls, neck rolls, arm circles.
  • Hang from some monkey bars or reach and touch a branch or leaf or doorway
  • Look over your shoulder, twisting the waist
  • Stand on one leg, do some tennis ball rising calf stretches, do a hula-hula dance to get the pelvis moving!
  • Do some squats.
  • Do more squats whilst waving your arms about.

Need something more Pilates-ey and lying down?

  • Knee drops
  • Knee circles
  • Windows (with toe taps?!)
  • Spine curls with ribcage closure
  • These will all get the joints moving and good things squishing and stuff flushing.

And of course, drink plenty of watery stuff and try to eat good stuff. It helps with all that flushing.

It makes Total Obvious Sense.

*big breath=flexible, happy lungs=stronger flexible ribs = improved coughing…in case of That cough.

For more on Katy Bowman head to or her podcast Move Your DNA