The Benefits of Pilates

Just what can Pilates exercises do for you?

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

"I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." -- Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86.

Runner or golfer, tennis player or new mom, chances are you've heard someone talking about the benefits of Pilates. Many types of people, at many levels of fitness, who have begun doing Pilates exercises say they've seen improvements in range of motion, flexibility, circulation, posture, and abdominal strength -- and decreases in back, neck and joint pain.

Forty years after his death, the system of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates has never been in such demand. But can the benefits of Pilates (puh-LAH-teez), the system of strengthening and stretching exercises designed to develop the body's core, mobilize the spine and build flexibility, really be that far-reaching?

Pilates Benefit No. 1: Body Awareness

Celebrity Pilates teacher Siri Dharma Galliano says Pilates -- when performed correctly and with the proper supervision -- can do all that and more.

"It is an education in body awareness," says Galliano, who owns Live Art Pilates studio in Los Angeles. "It changes your shape by educating you in daily life. When you're cooking, brushing your teeth ... the lessons are coming home to pull your stomach in and pull your shoulders down. There is an attention required (in doing the exercises) that changes your awareness" even after class.