The Health Benefits of Aerial Silks, Aerial Yoga and Trapeze
If you thought aerial activities such as aerial hoop and silks were purely a great way to have fun and learn new skills, think again. They also provide a range of health benefits. Everything from your physical strength to your figure and mood can be improved through regular participation in aerial activities. Here we review exactly what your body can gain by taking part.
Although these aerial activities might look very graceful and effortless, the physical work that goes into them – which anyone who has ever tried these out can testify - means that they are not just good for toning muscles; they allow significant energy expenditure too. While participating in these activities you can look forward to burning between 300 and 400 calories per hour and with experience and increased intensity of exercise, even greater energy expenditures can be achieved. Not only that, but the increased muscle mass that accompanies their frequent participation, increases metabolic rate, so even at rest more calories are burned. This makes aerial activities a great form of exercise to aid weight loss or to ensure that the extra pounds do not creep upon you.
The increase in physical fitness that can be gained through the likes of aerial activities should not be underestimated. All of these activities can increase muscle strength – not just the muscles of the limbs, but those of the core body too – and are great for improving upper body strength; something that many forms of exercise neglect. This strengthening goes beyond the muscles to other soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments, helping to prevent injuries while undertaking other activities. Flexibility is greater, increasing the range of movements possible; co-ordination also improves. Tension tends to build up in the muscles and joints during our daily lives and activities are the perfect way to allow the release of this; the decompression of the spine via the release of pressure between the vertebrae that both activities allow is particularly notable, aiding posture on both sitting and standing.
As your body weight is taken off the ground with these activities they are low impact, so injury to the joints are less likely than weight bearing exercise such as running. However, they are no less intense than floor based activities and to give you a greater appreciation consider this: while taking part in aerial when you turn yourself upside down once, this is equivalent to doing 20 sit ups; multiply that up over a session of aerial and that is some work out! The additional benefit of supported body weight in aerial is that more difficult positions that require greater stretching are easier to attain than on the floor, so what would usually require years of perseverance can be achieved more quickly and safely. Stamina increases with aerialand aid an increase in lung capacity through the breathing techniques adopted; a fall in heart rate and blood pressure are also seen, which indicate an increase in fitness level.
Exercise provides a great boost for mental health and aerial activities are able to provide benefits towards this above and beyond that offered by more traditional forms of exercise. Yoga is well known for its ability to bring about feelings of calmness and this is no different in its aerial form. In yoga calmness is in part due to breathing exercises, meditation and muscle relaxation, but also through the chemical changes that it brings about in the body; levels of the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine – associated with stress or exhilaration - fall, while levels of the sleep inducing oxytocin rise, all encouraging feelings of relaxation. In a similar way to aerial yoga, aerial hoop, silks and trapeze promote calmness. However, mood is also lifted by all of these aerial activities, which is thought to relate to the rise in oxygen supply to the brain – thanks to the deep breathing – which promotes feelings of wellbeing. Meanwhile, aerial can instill a sense of freedom as you sail through the air, which for some can be relaxing, while others receive an adrenaline rush from this. Self-esteem can also be boosted through use of aerial, as in participating you are placing trust in yourself when working at a height and on mastering both skills there is a real sense of achievement. All these benefits to mental health are particularly positive, as we live in an increasingly hectic world that can place a lot of stress and strain on us.
Bearing all of these health benefits in mind, anyone who is perhaps stuck in a rut with their current exercise routine and keen for a new challenge should perhaps turn their attentions to one of these aerial activities. You will struggle to find forms of exercise elsewhere that are so playful and you never know where it might lead; it isn’t unheard of for people to try these activities out and find that they have such an aptitude for them that they are able to give up their usual day job.