Pilates is a “mind-body” exercise of low-moderate intensity. It is mainly done on the floor on a mat, but it can also be done using special apparatus such as Cadilllac, Wunda Chair and Reformer.
It was created in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates who believed that pilates would be suitable for people of all ages, genders and physical and mental capacity. He described pilates, originally called Contrology, as an exercise that ‘develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.’
This exercise, which was initially particularly popular amongst dancers, has now become a mainstream exercise.
Pilates aims to address:
- Muscular strength
- Core stability
Health benefits of Pilates
With the health care system now shifting towards patient centred active management, there is now more emphasis on physical exercise as a way to reduce the burden of disease, particularly those forms of exercises for which there is evidence of clinical benefit.
Scientific research has confirmed positive effects of pilates on:
- Dynamic balance
- Muscular endurance
- Back pain
- Physical fitness
- Mental health.
Among these benefits, back pain and mental health are the two most researched.
Pilates and back pain
A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicineshowed that doing pilates once or twice a week for 6 months, led to significant reduction in pain and disability in a group of patients with chronic low back pain. They also found that pain reduction was greater in the group who did pilates twice a week as compared to the group who only exercised once a week.
Pilates and mental health
In terms of mental health, there are reports to suggest that pilates can improve:
- Mood and depression
- Anxiety symptoms
- Feelings of fatigue
- Sleep quality
- Improved mindfulness
Are there any risks involved?
As pilates is a low-moderate intensity exercise, risk of injury is often very low. But, if you suffer from back pain or recovering from other injuries, it is important that the exercises are tailored to your specific injury by a relevant health professional.