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The Influence of Pilates Exercises on Body Composition, Muscle Strength, and Gait Speed in Community-Dwelling Older Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Aibar-Almazán, Agustín; Martínez-Amat, Antonio; Cruz-Díaz, David; Jesús de la Torre-Cruz, Manuel; Jiménez-García, José Daniel; Zagalaz-Anula, Noelia; Redecillas-Peiró, María Teresa; Mendoza-Ladrón de Guevara, Nicolás; Hita-Contreras, Fidel

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2022 - Volume 36 - Issue 8 - p 2298-2305, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003790


As people age a wide range of consequences can occur including obesity, muscle loss, and a decline in muscle strength and gait speed. These alterations are associated with disability, functional decline, and mortality in older adults.

Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze the effects of Pilates exercises on body composition, handgrip strength, and physical performance among community-dwelling Spanish women aged 60 and older.


109 women were randomly allocated to either a control (n = 54) or a Pilates (n = 55) group. The Pilates group completed a 12-week training program.

Body composition was evaluated by bioelectrical impedance. Body mass index (BMI), percentage of body fat, and height-adjusted skeletal muscle mass index (SMI) were assessed before and immediately after the test along with physical performance estimated by gait speed (timed up-and-go test) and handgrip strength.


Statistically significant improvements were observed both within and between groups for handgrip strength and gait speed. After 12 weeks, BMI significantly decreased only in the Pilates group. No significant differences were observed regarding SMI. Therefore, a 12-week Pilates exercise intervention on community dwelling women over 60 years old shows beneficial effects on muscle strength, physical performance, and BMI, but failed to induce any changes on body composition.


Doing something is better than doing nothing, thus Pilates does offer some benefit for older women as compared to not doing Pilates.

However, like I have averred before, Pilates is a poor choice of exercise for those seeking maximal fat loss regardless of age because it 1) only activates and overloads a minimal amount of muscle mass and 2) consequently burns minimal calories.

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