Pilates Found to Significantly Improve Heart Health in Young, Obese Women

April 2, 2020

A newly published study found that Pilates may be effective in improving cardiovascular health for obese young women.

Pilates may be effective in improving cardiovascular health for obese young women, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Hypertensionon April 1, 2020.

Pilates is a popular wellness routine in the US with approximately 9 million participants in 2018, and emphasizes core strength, flexibility, body posture, and controlled breathing. It is no secret that exercise is important in preventing and managing cardiovascular health problems, but it can be difficult for obese women to maintain traditional workout routines.

The effects of Pilates on heart health have been understudied as well, which prompted researchers to examine the effects of mat Pilates training on vascular function and body fatness in young obese women.

The study included 28 obese women aged 19-27 years with elevated blood pressure (BP) and a body mass index between 30-40 kg/m2 who were randomized to a mat Pilates group or a nonexercising control group for 12 weeks. Participants were free of chronic diseases, did not smoke, and performed <90 minutes of regular exercise per week at baseline.

Participants in the mat Pilates group had 3, 1-hour training sessions each week supervised by a certified mat Pilates instructor that were divided into 3 stages:

1. Initial warm up and stretch: 10 minutes2. General mat Pilates exercises: 40 minutes3. Cool down: 10 minutes

Training increased over the 12 weeks, with the repetition of each exercise steadily increasing.

The researchers found that mat Pilates significantly reduced arterial stiffness, aortic BP, and body fat percentage in study participants.

"Our findings provide evidence that Mat Pilates benefit cardiovascular health by decreasing blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and body fatness in young obese women with elevated blood pressure,” wrote researchers. “Because adherence to traditional exercise (both aerobic and resistance) is low in obese individuals, Mat Pilates Training might prove an effective exercise alternative for the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular events in young obese adults."

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