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Pilates Improves Life Satisfaction for Women

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Feb 17, 2012

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Women who practice mat-based Pilates consistently for at least 6 months may improve life satisfaction, total physical self-concept and perceptions of their own appearance, functionality and health status, according to research published in Women & Health (2011; 51 [3], 240–55).

Researchers from Portugal and Germany set out to examine whether practicing Pilates as a mind-body exercise would positively impact a woman’s individual attitude toward herself and her health. They randomly assigned 80 healthy women, aged 25–55, to either a Pilates group or a control group. No participants had prior Pilates experience. To remain in the trial, Pilates group members were required to attend 85% of the 2-hour Pilates classes, which were offered four times weekly for 6 months. Sixty-two women completed the study. Control group members received no training but were instructed to maintain existing physical activity levels.

At baseline, after 3 months and at program’s end, an assessor (who did not know group member assignments) supervised participants’ self-completion of a questionnaire. Questions used the Satisfaction With Life Scale, the Physical Self-Concept Scale, and the EQ VAS, a part of the EQ-5D that measures perception of health—all valid and reliable tools.

Data analysis showed no significant differences between control and Pilates group members at baseline or after 3 months. After 6 months, however, Pilates group members showed significant improvements in life satisfaction, total physical self-concept, perceptions of appreciation by other people and perceptions of their own physical appearance, functionality and health status. Limitations of the study included its small sample size and the fact that a non-Pilates-based exercise group was not included as a control group, so researchers could not compare the results of one style of exercise with those of another.

“The significance of this study,” said lead author Ana Cruz-Ferreira, MA, an assistant professor at the department of sport and health at the University of Évora, in Portugal, “is that the Pilates method can be used to improve a healthy woman’s quality of life, which contributes to her psychological well-being. And, by improving life satisfaction, physical self-concept and perception of health status are all improved.”

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 9, Issue 3

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© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Palm Beach, Florida, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.