The Effects of Pilates in Physical Fitness on Older Adults

According to researchers at the Federal University of Vale de Sao Francisco in Petrolina, Brazil, Pilates, a form of exercise can improve physical fitness and blood sugar control in women in their 60’s and 70’s with Type 2 diabetes. Their work was reported on in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research.

Twenty-two women aged from 64 to 71 years were randomly assigned to either twelve weeks of Pilates or whatever they usually did for activity. The physical activity group held sessions of 60 minutes each three times a week for twelve weeks. Women in the Pilates group improved their ability to take in oxygen and use it to work their muscles, as well as improving their blood sugar levels…

  • by the first four weeks, the Pilates group lowered their average after-meal blood sugar from 246.1 mg/dL to 219.9 mg/dL (13.7 to 12.2 mmol/L).
  • by twelve weeks their blood sugar levels after meals were down to an average of 207.6 mg/dL (11.5 mmol/L).

HbA1c levels went from an average of 7.3 percent at the start of the study to 6.7 percent by twelve weeks. The ability to take in and use oxygen was linked with blood sugar levels after meals.

From the above results, the researchers concluded Pilates could bring improvements in fitness and blood sugar control in older women with Type 2 diabetes after twelve weeks.

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates and became popular in the late 1920s. Pilates is known to…

  • improve flexibility,
  • improve posture,
  • increase muscle strength and tone especially in the core – and
  • help reduce back pain.

Equipment based Pilates is great as a tool for safe rehabilitation due to low impact on the joints. Pilates was specifically designed to help World War I Veterans with injuries.


  • consists of a set of exercises using the abdominal and back muscles.
  • users are instructed to be continually mindful of their movements and maintain good posture and muscular control.
  • strengthening, toning, posture, and flexibility are the primary goals, as opposed to weight loss or heart and blood vessel workouts.

Pilates is recommended for people who enjoy yoga due to its mind and body connection. An array of advertisements for Pilates books and manuals can be found on the internet. They range in levels all the way from books for beginners to those for instructors. Perhaps for the beginner the best idea would be to look for a book at the library or find instructions for exercises online before making an investment. Local instructors may be found at gymnasiums and classes can sometimes be found at community centers.