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Pilates Improves Youth Fitness

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 [3], 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.

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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