Balance TrainingElderlyPilates

Does Pilates improved balance?

Researchers at the University of Tasmania, in Launceston, evaluated the effects of a Pilates on balance and function in community-dwelling elderly adults.

First, the details.

  • 59 ambulatory older community-dwelling adults were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 5 weeks.
    • Pilates training
    • Usual activity (control)
  • 6 weeks later they switched treatments.
  • Static and dynamic balance and leg strength were recorded 4 times before and after each treatment.
    • Static balance is maintaining balance while still, and dynamic balance is maintaining balance while moving.

And, the results.

  • There were no significant differences between the groups in function despite significantly improved balance.
  • Improvements that occurred during Pilates did not return to baseline levels.
  • There were no changes in leg strength.
  • Mediolateral sway (back and forth, forward and back) standing on a foam cushion with eyes closed improved, with the largest effect after Pilates.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Although there were no significant between-group differences, participation in the Pilates component of the study led to improved static and dynamic balance.”

They suggest that the absence of differences between the groups may be a consequence of too few people studied or because the benefits of Pilates were maintained when the participants in the control group crossed over to the Pilates treatment.

Several months ago, a review of the published evidence for Pilates in healthy people concluded, “The studies were poorly done. So, we don’t really know any more now than before the studies were run.”

2/21/12 21:45 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.