If you want to increase muscle strength and tone, Pilates delivers. Pilates has also been shown to improve flexibility and balance. But what about weight loss? Can this form of exercise help you drop your excess pounds? According to one new study, the answer is a resounding yes.
In March 2021, Frontiers in Physiology published a meta-analysis1 of 11 different pieces of research involving Pilates and body weight or Pilates and body composition. In total, these studies included 393 subjects, 90 of whom were male and the remaining 303 female.
After analyzing the results of each one, researchers concluded that Pilates can “dramatically” reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat percentage in adults who are classified as being overweight or obese. These reductions were more pronounced for obese individuals when compared to those labeled as overweight.
Results also appeared to be greater in studies where participants engaged in Pilates for 10 weeks or more (some studies were eight weeks in length whereas others lasted as long as 24 weeks). This suggests that the effects of Pilates continue to accrue over time, with participants receiving more benefits the longer they engage in this physical activity.
Previous studies have further sought to identify whether Pilates offers weight-related benefits for individuals in certain demographics. Based on their findings, the answer is also yes.
For example, a 2012 study2 looked at 66 sedentary middle-aged women who were perimenopausal. Participants who did six weeks of Pilates (one-hour sessions held three days per week) had significant differences in their weight, BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, body fat percentage, and body composition post-study when compared to data collected pre-study.
A 2013 study3 also sought to learn whether Pilates could reduce the weight of people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Researchers noted that subjects engaging in Pilates experienced statistically significant improvements with regard to weight loss, body composition, and waist-to-hip ratios. They also decreased their systolic blood pressure while increasing their muscular endurance.
Based on studies such as these, it would appear that Pilates can help all types of people lose weight—even those facing age-related hormonal fluctuations or those with physical conditions typically characterized by weight gain. Thus, engaging in this physical activity two to three times per week can provide benefits for almost anyone with the goal of losing excess weight.