The effects of pilates training on flexibility and body composition: An observational study

Neil A. Segal, Jane Hein, Jeffrey R. Basford

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123 Scopus citations


Segal NA, Hein J, Basford JR. The effects of Pilates training on flexibility and body composition: an observational study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004;85:1977-81. Objective To assess claims regarding the effects of Pilates training on flexibility, body composition, and health status. Design An observational prospective study. Setting A community athletic club. Participants A sample of 47 adults (45 women, 2 men) who presented for Pilates training. Interventions Not applicable. Main outcome measures Fingertip-to-floor distance, truncal lean body mass by bioelectric impedance, health status by questionnaire and visual analog scale were assessed at baseline, 2, 4, and 6 months (±1wk). Results Thirty-two of 47 enrolled subjects met the protocol requirements of missing no more than 1 weekly 1-hour session Pilates mat class during each 2-month period. Investigators were blinded to measurements from previous time points. Median (interquartile range [IQR]) fingertip-to-floor distance improved from baseline by 3.4cm (1.3-5.7cm), 3.3cm (0.3- 7.8cm), and 4.3cm (1.5-7.6cm) at 2, 4, and 6 months, respectively (paired nonparametric analysis, all P<.01). There were no statistically significant changes in truncal lean body mass, height, weight, or other body composition parameters. Self-assessment of health also did not change in a statistically significant manner from its baseline median (IQR) value of 77mm (69-85mm). Conclusions Pilates training may result in improved flexibility. However, its effects on body composition, health status, and posture are more limited and may be difficult to establish. Further study might involve larger sample sizes, comparison with an appropriate control group, and assessment of motor unit recruitment as well as strength of truncal stabilizers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1977-1981
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Body composition
  • Exercise
  • Flexibility
  • Health status
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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