Pilates: Effective for Developing Core Stability, but Limited Sessions Have Limited Global Benefits

Issue: Vol. 4, No. 2

Published by Journal of Fitness Research, August 2015. Volume 4

Tags: Pilates Training , Body Composition , Range Of Motion , Exercise , Muscle Strength

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  1. Kate L Pumpa (Corresponding Author)
    University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
  2. Karen Dzialdowski
    Pilates Canberra, 3/21 Marcus Clark St, New Acton, ACT 2601, Australia.
  3. Mark Stiffle
    Department of Health, Furzer St, Woden, ACT 2606, Australia.
  4. Lanette Gavran
    Pilates Canberra, 3/21 Marcus Clark St, New Acton, ACT 2601, Australia & Pilates International Training Centre, 14 Suakin St, Pymble, NSW 2073, Australia.


Introduction: The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week to maintain good health. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests Pilates may be an effective mode of physical activity, however there is limited evidence to support the efficacy of Pilates for a range of its commercially claimed benefits.

Methods: In this observational cohort study, healthy adults (4 males and 14 females), who had not participated in Pilates exercise prior to the study, completed 12 weeks of studio and/or mat based Pilates classes once per week and were compared to age matched controls. Before and after the 12 week intervention, participants completed a dual energy X-Ray absorptometry scan to assess body composition and bone mineral density; completed the 5 stage Sahrmann Core Stability assessment; were assessed for joint mobility at the shoulder, cervical and lumbar spine, hip and ankle using a goniometer; had their lower limb strength assessed through heel raises and isokinetic dynamometry; and their energy expenditure and energy intake monitored utilising the SenseWear™ Armband Mini and a five day food record.

Results: There were no significant differences identified between the groups (Pilates and control) at baseline in relation to demographics (age, weight, height) and all aforementioned physiological characteristics, with the exception of cervical neck flexion. After the 12 week intervention, positive changes in core stability as identified through the Sahrmann core stability test among Pilates participants was evident though not statistically significant. Pilates group mean change 0.78 ±1.30AU, control group mean change -0.33 ± 1.11AU (p = 0.070). No other meaningful differences were identified.

Conclusions: Though 12 weeks of Pilates completed once per week may be effective for enhancing core stability, it did not appear to elicit positive outcomes for range of motion, body composition and foot strength.

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ISSN 2201-5655 © 2014, Australian Institute of Fitness

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Article Title

Pilates: Effective for Developing Core Stability, but Limited Sessions Have Limited Global Benefits

Journal Title

Journal of Fitness Research Volume 4

Online Publication Date

August 2015

Author Names

Kate L Pumpa (Corresponding Author)
Karen Dzialdowski
Mark Stiffle
Lanette Gavran

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