Kids need fun, effective and economical forms of physical activity that not only deliver results but also stimulate continued participation. Researchers searching for appropriate youth activities found that 11-year-old girls who regularly took Pilates mat classes reduced body weight and considered it an enjoyable form of exercise. According to a pilot study published in Preventive Medicine (2006; 42 , 177–80), 30 girls who took Pilates mat classes 5 days a week for 1 hour per day over a 4-week period lost weight and improved their body mass index percentile. In addition, the girls indicated on an enjoyment questionnaire that they liked the experience.
Investigators concluded that Pilates mat classes can play a valuable role in improving the health and fitness of young girls. Furthermore, since mats were the only equipment used, the program could easily be added as a relatively low cost after-school activity. The impact of these results is limited by the study’s small sample size, short duration and lack of age diversity. More research is needed to explore further how Pilates programs can benefit youth.