Is Pilates a good exercise for weight loss?

Pilates is a popular low-impact exercise. It’s effective for toning up, building lean muscle, and improving posture.

Practicing Pilates can be beneficial for your health and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Yet, Pilates may not be as effective for weight loss as other cardio exercises, such as running or swimming. That’s because you’ll burn fewer calories in traditional mat Pilates classes than if you did other cardio exercises.

But if you enjoy Pilates classes you may be more likely to stick to your fitness routine by taking these classes regularly. You’ll also be more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If your goal is weight loss, try combining Pilates with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise. Alternate Pilates with strength training and other forms of cardio exercise such as walking, swimming, running, or cycling.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of Pilates and the role it can play in helping you to lose weight.

What does research say?

The research on Pilates for weight loss is mixed.

One small study in 2017 observed 37 overweight or obese women ages 30 to 50. The researchers found that practicing Pilates for eight weeks was effective for:

  • weight loss
  • lowering BMI
  • toning the waist
  • decreasing abdomen and hip circumference

It made no difference in lean body mass (body fat weight subtracted from total body weight) though.

This was compared to a group doing no exercise during this time.

Another 2015 study observed postmenopausal women aged 59 to 66 years old. It found that 12 weeks of practicing mat Pilates resulted in no change in body composition.

But the participants did significantly increase abdominal, upper, and lower limb strength. Researchers suspect there was no change in body composition because the women in the study didn’t alter their diets.

There’s also promising research from 2015 that showed that Pilates may be effective for chronic low back pain management and other injury rehabilitation. But more studies are needed.

Never practice Pilates if you’re injured or in pain without a doctor’s permission.

How many calories does Pilates burn?

The amount of calories you will burn in Pilates depends on your current weight, if you’re doing a mat or reformer class, and the level of difficulty of the class.

For someone who’s about 150 pounds, one 50-minute Pilates mat class at a beginner level burns approximately 175 calories. An advanced 50-minute class burns approximately 254 calories.

You’ll burn more calories in a Pilates reformer class or any Pilates workout where you elevate your heart rate.

How do calories affect weight loss?

To lose 1 pound, you need to burn about 3,500 calories.

If your goal is to lose weight, you may want to try cardio exercise such as walking, running, or cycling, in addition to Pilates. Also focus on eating a healthy diet with lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

How often should you practice Pilates?

If you’re new to Pilates, try to practice 2 to 3 times per week to experience all the benefits.

You can also try more advanced Pilates classes like Pilates reformer classes and combination classes like Piloxing (Pilates and boxing) or Yogalates (yoga and Pilates.)

You’ll burn more calories in these full body classes than in a traditional Pilates mat class.

If you’re trying to lose weight, participate in these types of combination classes a few times a week for best results. You can also alternate Pilates classes with strength training sessions (with weights) and cardio exercise.

Combining Pilates with other forms of cardio exercise and strength training, plus eating a healthy diet, is an effective way to tone your muscles and help you achieve your weight loss goals.

What is the Pilates effect?

The “Pilates effect” is the idea that practicing Pilates can lead to improved posture, muscle tone, and a toned core area.

The result of this “effect” is that it may appear you have lost weight. That’s because if you’ve gained or toned up your muscles, you may look more fit overall, even if you haven’t lost weight.

Tips for weight loss

Exercise is important for weight loss, but it’s equally important to focus on your diet.

Eat healthy meals and snacks with lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

See your doctor or a nutritionist to create a diet plan for your goals. For safety, never eat less than 1,200 calories a day.

Takeaway

Pilates is an effective low-impact workout. It can be beneficial for toning up muscles, toning the core, and improving posture.

It may also help with recovery from back pain and other injuries by strengthening the affected area.

If you’re looking to lose weight, you can incorporate Pilates into your wellness plan. Practice Pilates and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle for best results.

Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.