Pilates is a type of exercise designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body. It is a full-body system of exercises that focus on the core postural muscles of the abdomen and back, and work on balance, alignment, breathing, and strength.

People use this for...

Pilates has been used for athletic performance, exercise, weight loss, obesity, fall prevention, and low back pain.


Fall prevention. Preliminary clinical research shows that doing Pilates for one hour three times weekly for 12 weeks reduces the number of falls in women over 65 years of age by 80% compared to only 20% in a control group (93909).

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of Pilates for this use.

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

Dosing & administration

    Adverse effects

    Interactions with pharmaceuticals

    None known.

    Interactions with herbs & supplements

    None known.

    Interactions with foods

    None known.

    Interactions with lab tests

    Interactions with diseases

    Mechanism of action

    Pilates is based on the concepts of awareness, balance, breathing, mental focus, control, flowing movement, and precision. Proponents suggest that Pilates exercises teach awareness of neutral alignment of the spine and strengthen the deep postural muscles that support this alignment. This is believed to be important to help alleviate and prevent back pain.

    Some research shows that Pilates may help prevent falls in older individuals by reducing fear of falling; improving balance, flexibility, and postural stability; and increasing strength (93909,93911,93912,93914,93915,93916).


    93909Irez GB, Ozdemir RA, Evin R, Irez SG, Korkusuz F. Integrating pilates exercise into an exercise program for 65+ year-old women to reduce falls. J Sports Sci Med. 2011 Mar 1;10(1):105-11. eCollection 2011. View abstract.
    93911Cruz-Díaz D, Martínez-Amat A, De la Torre-Cruz MJ, Casuso RA, de Guevara NM, Hita-Contreras F. Effects of a six-week Pilates intervention on balance and fear of falling in women aged over 65 with chronic low-back pain: A randomized controlled trial. Maturitas. 2015 Dec;82(4):371-6. View abstract.
    93912Pata RW, Lord K, Lamb J. The effect of Pilates based exercise on mobility, postural stability, and balance in order to decrease fall risk in older adults. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2014 Jul;18(3):361-7. View abstract.
    93914Bullo V, Bergamin M, Gobbo S, Sieverdes JC, Zaccaria M, Neunhaeuserer D, Ermolao A. The effects of Pilates exercise training on physical fitness and wellbeing in the elderly: A systematic review for future exercise prescription. Prev Med. 2015 Jun;75:1-11. View abstract.
    93915Granacher U, Gollhofer A, Hortobágyi T, Kressig RW, Muehlbauer T. The importance of trunk muscle strength for balance, functional performance, and fall prevention in seniors: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2013 Jul;43(7):627-41. View abstract.
    93916Johnson, L., Putrino, D., James, I., et al., 2013. The effects of a supervised Pilates training program on balance in Parkinson's disease. Adv. Park. Dis. 2, 58-61.
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