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Is Pilates Good for Weight Loss? (+3 Effective Exercises)
Weight Loss

Is Pilates Good for Weight Loss? (+3 Effective Exercises)

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on July 12, 2022
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7 min

Learn how Pilates can help you achieve your perfect body shape and what benefits it has to offer, including a stronger core, a more balanced body, precise movement, and natural flexibility that’s good for everyone.

is pilates good for weight loss

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Are you guilty of indulging in too many chips during a stressful football game or reaching for an extra piece of chocolate when feeling bored or sad? When you feel stressed, do you eat to feel better?

This clearly shows that your mind is one of the first causes of you gaining weight.

When you are trying to lose weight and get in shape, your mental health can play a big role. There has been a considerable amount of research through the years showing that what we eat, what kind of exercise we do, or even our posture can affect our mental state.

The key to long-term and sustainable weight loss is the mind-body connection, which means maintaining focus on your goals while controlling your body.

In this article, our team wants to show you how Pilates can help you achieve your body goals by getting your mind and body working together. Read on to know more about it.

Is Pilates a Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, especially when you’re struggling to lose weight, a Pilates workout can help you focus and calm your mind. This is great for people who can’t or won’t do intense workouts, as Pilates is a low-impact yet effective workout.

Pilates is good for your entire body and particularly effective at building core and muscle strength, correcting bad posture, and taking your gait to the next level. This workout is also recommended for those who have sedentary lifestyles, as Pilates is a great way to strengthen your back.

Pilates is beneficial for your mental health and helps develop a sense of focus, precision, and control of movement, which leads not just to physical but also to mental transformation and growth. People who want to develop mindfulness and lose weight can integrate Pilates exercises into their workout routines, along with high-impact exercises like running or swimming.

People who do not like weight training but want to keep up their metabolic rate should consider this gentle strength training. It is best for people with sensitive backs, back injuries, or a high BMI.

Practicing Pilates can contribute to healthy aging for women and men in a wide range of physical conditions, from professional athletes to retirees looking to get in shape. Also, it is a perfect workout for women over 50 who are trying to get fit and manage menopausal weight gain.

Does Pilates Burn Fat?

A Pilates exercise program, when combined with a healthy diet and calorie deficit, can help burn fat or maintain a healthy weight. Just don’t expect it to work as fast as cardio or strength training, as this is a low-impact workout.

Observing changes in the body composition and burning fat through Pilates takes time. Research showed that practicing Pilates for a prolonged period of time can dramatically reduce weight, body mass index, and body fat percentage in obese or overweight adults.

When you practice Pilates consistently, your lean muscle mass increases, which allows you to burn more calories during your other daily activities. A 3,500-calorie burn is roughly equivalent to one pound of fat, so your weight loss depends on how much you burn.

Does Pilates Burn Calories?

The average Pilates workout burns as many calories as half an hour of jogging, which is approximately 102–204 calories for an average 150-pound person.

The type of exercise you do is a matter of personal choice. Making a choice that keeps you coming back is the key to success.

Pilates isn’t intended to burn more calories but to tone your body. Before you sign up for Pilates classes, you need to know what to expect. You’ll get more flexibility and more strength on both sides of your body – and you’ll definitely let go of tension. It also helps build more lean muscle mass.

To burn the most calories during Pilates workouts, you should choose an advanced program with high intensity that pushes you to your limits. Any activity, including Pilates, that increases your heart rate causes your body to burn more calories and promotes weight loss.

How many calories does Pilates burn?

In an hour-long Pilates class, an average 150-pound person can burn between 204 to 408 calories, depending on the level of difficulty.

During a Pilates class, beginners can hardly burn many calories because of slow movements.

To reach advanced levels of Pilates, you will probably have to practice 2–3 times a week for several months. However, after 3–4 weeks, you will start seeing results in how you feel and look.

By the time you reach an advanced level in Pilates, you will be able to burn as many calories as you need to lose weight. An average person who wants to lose one pound of fat per week needs to burn about 500 more calories than they consume every day. This is roughly equivalent to an hour-long workout at an advanced Pilates level.

Is Yoga or Pilates Better for Weight Loss?

Both yoga and Pilates at an advanced level burn a lot of calories and promote weight loss, but they won’t be as effective at an entry level. Even if you’re just starting out, yoga and Pilates can transform your life.

Pilates teaches you to focus, breathe, and train certain muscles in your core to improve your body control. Initially, a Pilates class for beginners is more like an easy series of stretches, which lays the groundwork for you to lengthen your spine, narrow your waist, and lift your chest. With time, Pilates helps with weight loss too.

The goal of yoga is to improve your mental health and awareness rather than make you lose weight. Beginner-level exercises usually involve only a little movement, which does not raise your heart rate enough to burn calories.

Pilates can burn 204–408 calories per hour, as mentioned above. If you’d rather do yoga instead of Pilates, pick a flow class that requires more movement and higher heart rates. For example, one hour of hatha yoga will result in a 170-calorie burn, while more advanced power yoga (ashtanga) can burn 476 calories for an average 150-pound person.

5 Health Benefits of Pilates

Classical Pilates is one of the complementary therapies used in sports medicine to treat patients with back pain and other injuries who cannot do conventional strength training exercises.

Pilates can be done either on special equipment with a Pilates instructor or on a mat in any convenient place.

Whatever type of Pilates you choose, you should follow these five principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flow. Together, they create benefits that can only be reaped by dedicated practitioners in a regular long-term practice.

#1 Strengthening muscles

With a certified personal trainer and proper nutrition, regular Pilates classes will help you achieve muscle definition in your abs and hips and even make you look fitter long before you see changes on the scale.

Pilates exercises flow into each other to build strength and stamina. The results of a recent study concluded that mat Pilates training results in strength and flexibility gains in both the lower and upper body for women who have undergone breast cancer treatment.

#2 Relaxation and stress management

While you exercise, you learn breathing techniques to calm your mind and de-stress your body.

It is an excellent way to manage stress, unwind, focus and enjoy your body. After all, weight loss works better when you’re not stressed.

Studies of people who practiced Pilates on a mat for one hour twice a week for 6 months found that their life satisfaction increased. Also, they felt confident about the way they looked, how flexible their bodies were, and how others perceived them.

#3 Improving flexibility and balance

The goal of Pilates is to make precise movement second nature. All muscles work together in Pilates to align the joints and promote a range of motion.

You’ll move effortlessly when you master Pilates since its exercise routine strengthens and stretches your muscles at the same time. Unlike conventional strength training, muscles get longer, not wider, creating the illusion of a slimmer body.

#4 Better posture

A person’s posture can tell you a lot about their health. People who slouch lose strength in their back muscles, causing pressure and pain in other parts of their bodies, especially if they are overweight. This can eventually cause their spine to curve and can happen naturally as people age.

As you do Pilates, you strengthen muscle groups on each side of your body, activate them during movement, and learn how to balance the weight. As a result, you get a good posture which helps you sit or stand for longer, have fewer headaches, and sleep better.

Study results show that Pilates can significantly improve posture in adult women if they practice for at least 6 months.

#5 Suitable for everyone

Because Pilates does not require preconditions, anyone can do it, regardless of age or weight. This includes people with medical conditions, for whom it might be unsafe to do other types of exercise.

People with lower back pain will experience the most benefits from practicing Pilates because it was originally designed for them.

Pilates for Weight Loss FAQs

Is Pilates low-impact?

As compared to high-intensity interval training, for example, Pilates classes are longer and flow at a more relaxed pace, but at the advanced levels, you work your muscles just as hard, which may result in weight loss. So Pilates is low-impact only at the entry level.

Does Pilates tone your body?

Taking Pilates classes can help tone your body by improving muscular endurance and flexibility even without equipment or higher skill levels. Long-term commitment to Pilates can improve your body composition to have less fat and more muscles.

A Word From Our Personal Trainer

Improved posture, muscle tone, and a toned core may cause you to look fitter even before you lose weight. This is known as the Pilates effect.

You can do the following Pilates exercises for core strength on the mat in the comfort of your living room or backyard as part of your fitness routine.

Pilates plank. Place your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Roll your shoulders back and down, point your fingertips forward, and turn your inner elbows slightly forward as well.

Lift up in the middle while you step your foot straight back, then your other foot. Engage your legs to support the plank position. Hang there for a minute or two. Let your muscles relax and repeat.

Leg lift. While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet parallel and hip-width apart. Take a deep breath into your rib cage and exhale to tighten your abdominals and pelvis.

Keep your hips, pelvis, and back in the same position as you lift your right leg. Hold on while you breathe deeply. While your abs are tight and your back is straight, lift your left leg up to join the already bent leg. Hold this position for a few seconds while you breathe in and out.

Finally, breathe out and put your feet back on the floor.

Standing Pilates legwork. Stand upright a few inches from the wall. Touch the wall lightly with your fingertips. Be close enough to prevent your shoulders from tightening and to keep your shoulder blades sliding down your back. Kneel so that your knees track above but not all the way over your toes.

Make sure your spine is tall and your core is strong. Lift your heels up while keeping your posture upright. Stay on the balls of your feet and raise straight up through your midline.

As you lower your heels to the floor, keep your head up and regain your starting posture. Do this 2–3 times.

Conclusion

By improving your ability to concentrate, teaching you breathing techniques that help release tension, as well as strengthening your core and correcting your posture, Pilates benefits the mind and body.

Over time, a Pilates program can result in weight loss and greatly reduce body fat and BMI in obese or overweight adults. At an advanced level, it can also help build lean muscle mass.

To lose weight quickly, however, it is not enough to do Pilates alone. You have to exercise regularly and make sure you alternate Pilates with high-intensity interval training and maintain a calorie deficit.

Weight loss is a mental process that requires changing your habits and making healthier choices, limiting yourself from overindulging in food. This is the only way to make your body burn fat and lose weight.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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