10 Benefits of Pilates

Pilates is a low-impact workout effective at strengthing, lengthening, and toning your muscles through controlled, repetitive movements. There are many advantages to incorporating Pilates into your workout routine from increased strength to improved posture. Read on to discover some of the biggest benefits.

1

Pilates Is Whole-Body Fitness

Woman doing mat Pilates at home following a fitness video online
Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Pilates trains the body as an integrated whole, focusing on core, lower body, and upper body strength as well as flexibility and posture.

Pilates workouts promote strength, balanced muscle development, flexibility, and increased range of motion for the joints.

Attention to core support and full-body fitness, including the breath and the mind, provide a level of integrative fitness that is hard to find elsewhere. It is also a reason that Pilates is popular in rehab settings, as well as with athletes who find that Pilates is a great foundation for any kind of movement they do. ​

2

Pilates Is For Everyone

Whether you are an older adult just starting to exercise, an elite athlete, or somewhere in between, the foundations of Pilates movement apply to you and your body. The focus on building core strength, proper alignment, and the body-mind connection make Pilates accessible to all.

With thousands of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates workouts can be tailored to individual needs. There are ways you can adapt the exercises, and there are even specific considerations for Pilates for men and during pregnancy. If you have any current or past injuries or other particular concerns, you can work with a trained Pilates instructor to learn modifications.

3

Pilates Creates Long, Strong Muscles

In Pilates, you are building toned muscles that work well both with your body as a whole and your functional fitness as you move through life. 

One way Pilates creates long, strong muscles is by using a type of muscle contraction called an eccentric contraction. This type of muscle contraction occurs when the muscle elongates under tension. In Pilates, moves often call for you to resist gravity and move in a controlled way—like when doing a tricep pushup or during the controlled release of tension on a pilates ring.  

A 2015 study found that Pilates effectively strengthened the upper body, lower body, and abdominal muscles in a group of postmenopausal women. Another study from 2015 found that two Pilates sessions a week over three months showed improvements in lower body strength, postural balance, and quality of life in older individuals.

4

Pilates Increases Flexibility

In Pilates, you work toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and range of motion within the joints. While there may not be as many pretzel-like positions in Pilates (as there might be in yoga, for example), having a body that can stretch and bend to meet the flow of life is a realistic and healthy goal.​

5

Pilates Develops Core Strength

The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These muscles support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. 

When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. The neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are free to do their jobs (but don't have to do more). A tight core can also help you learn how to pull your abs in to get the most out of many exercises.

Pilates involves a variety of abdominal exercises, which help to improve not only the strength of the core muscles but also their endurance. A small 2011 study showed that two hour-long Pilates sessions a week for 12 weeks helped improve abdominal strength and upper back posture.

6

Pilates Improves Posture

Good posture is a reflection of good alignment supported by a strong core. It is a position from which the body can move freely. Starting with Pilates movement fundamentals and progressing through mat and equipment exercises, Pilates trains the body to express itself with strength and harmony.

People who practice Pilates often have excellent posture. It's also a reason why people do Pilates for back pain. 

7

Pilates Increases Energy

Pilates gets the breath and circulation moving, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with the good feelings you get from exercising the whole body.

The more you exercise, the more energy you have. And the more energized you are, the more you'll feel like doing your exercise routine (to a point, of course). Pilates is a great low-impact form of exercise that can be incorporated into your daily routine. (Just be sure to consult with your physician before starting any new workout program.)

8

Pilates Can Promote Weight Loss

If you practice Pilates regularly, it will change your body. Known for creating long, strong muscles, Pilates improves your muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace. All of these things can make you look and feel very fit.

The formula for weight loss requires burning more calories than you take in. As a full-body fitness method, Pilates can help you do that.

Combined with aerobic activity and a healthy eating plan, Pilates becomes a prime weight loss and body toning tool. To get started, you might look into a group Pilates class, read up on how to incorporate Pilates into your workout routine, or meet with a physical trainer to help you design your Pilates workout for weight loss.

9

Pilates Integrates Body and Mind

Joseph Pilates was adamant that Pilates was about the "complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit." This is a secret of Pilates exercise. When you practice each movement with your total attention, the body and mind unite to bring forth the most benefit possible from each exercise.

Pilates uses six key principles—centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow—to integrate the body and mind.

10

Pilates Offers Options

Pilates classes are available at many dedicated studios, as well as gyms and community centers. The accessibility is good for beginners because it's recommended to start with live Pilates instruction at a studio or gym (preferably from a certified Pilates instructor) when you first begin your training.

You can always supplement your learning by streaming videos, downloading dedicated Pilates apps, and utilizing sample workout plans. You can even practice Pilates at home. You don't need fancy equipment—just a mat and comfy clothes.

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Article Sources
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