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Can Pilates Make You Smarter?

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Does Pilates—with its emphasis on precision, concentration and memorization of movement patterns—enhance brain function as well as physical function? Scientists from Yanshan University in Qinhuangdao, China, and Beijing Normal University in Beijing wanted to find out.

In preliminary research on five subjects, the invesigators measured changes in brain activity as a result of Pilates training—and found an increase in the brain’s alpha peak power after 10 weeks of training. Alpha peak power is believed to be related to increased neural network activity, memory performance and other cognitive functions.

The effects of Pilates training on brain function and intelligence need to be explored further. The authors of this small study suggested the method may be a valuable intervention for people with brain-degenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunctions that affect learning, memory and thinking. Watch for future research on this topic.

The study is available in Computational and Mathematical Models in Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/295986).

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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