Pilates is a popular form of exercise that has been shown to improve both physical and mental health. In recent years, research has shown that pilates can have a positive impact on mental health, including reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving mood, and enhancing overall well-being.
Pilates, with its focus on mindful movement and deep breathing, is not only beneficial for physical fitness but also plays a significant role in supporting mental health. The practice of Pilates encourages individuals to engage in a mind-body connection, allowing them to become more attuned to their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This increased awareness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by promoting relaxation and improving overall mental well-being. The intentional and controlled movements in Pilates also stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals in the brain, contributing to a sense of calmness and happiness. The rhythmic nature of Pilates exercises, coupled with the emphasis on breathing techniques, can promote a meditative state, reducing mental clutter and fostering mental clarity.
Additionally, Pilates provides a safe and supportive environment that promotes self-care and self-compassion. The practice encourages individuals to focus on their own bodies, abilities, and progress, rather than comparing themselves to others. This non-judgmental approach fosters a positive body image and enhances self-esteem, both of which are crucial for maintaining good mental health. Moreover, Pilates can help individuals develop a sense of discipline, patience, and resilience as they work through the various exercises and progress at their own pace. These qualities can transfer to other aspects of life, empowering individuals to overcome challenges and cope effectively with stressors. Overall, by integrating physical movements with mindfulness and self-care principles, Pilates becomes a holistic practice that supports mental health and well-being.
A popular and well-trusted study comparing pilates and mental health outcomes in sedentary women proved lower physiological and perceived stress levels after an 8 week pilates regimen (1). Conclusions drawn from this study proved that pilates can have a direct effect on cortisol levels, as well as perceived stress scores (1).
Another recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that pilates can improve symptoms of depression in older adults (2). The study found that older adults who participated in a 12-week pilates program had significant reductions in depressive symptoms compared to those who did not participate (2). The authors of the study suggest that pilates may be a useful intervention for improving mental health outcomes in older adults.
Overall, the research suggests that pilates can have a positive impact on mental health, including improving quality of life, daily outlook, and enhancing overall well-being. If you’re interested in trying pilates to improve your mental health, check out our 10 Day Pilates Body program!
- Ahmadi, H., & Mehravar, M. R. (2019). The effect of an eight-week Pilates exercise regimen on stress management and cortisol levels in sedentary women.
- Cabral-Santos C, Vieira ÉR, da Cunha de Sá-Caputo D, et al. (2020) Pilates improves depressive symptoms in older adults: A randomized controlled trial.