A Systematic Review of the Effects of Pilates Method of Exercise in Healthy People

Published:October 26, 2011DOI:


      Cruz-Ferreira A, Fernandes J, Laranjo L, Bernardo LM, Silva A. A systematic review of the effects of Pilates method of exercise in healthy people.


      To evaluate evidence for the effectiveness of the Pilates method of exercise (PME) in healthy people.

      Data Sources

      Published research was identified by searching Science Direct, MEDLINE, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, PEDro, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, and Web of Science.

      Study Selection

      Research studies published from inception to May 7, 2011 were selected for evaluation. Two reviewers independently applied the inclusion criteria to selected potential studies. Studies were included if they were published in a peer-reviewed journal, written in the English language, conducted as a randomized controlled trial (RCT) or quasi-RCT in healthy people, had an inactive and/or exercise control group(s), included key study outcomes, and used the PME as the study intervention in at least 1 study arm.

      Data Extraction

      Two reviewers independently extracted data (study, design, subjects, intervention, key outcomes results), applied the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale to assess the method quality of selected studies, and determined the strength of the evidence using the best evidence synthesis grading system.

      Data Synthesis

      Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria. PEDro scale values ranged from 3 to 7 (mean, 4.1), indicating a low level of scientific rigor. The outcomes studied most often were flexibility, muscular endurance, strength, and postural alignment. The PME appears to be effective in improving flexibility (strong evidence), dynamic balance (strong evidence), and muscular endurance (moderate evidence) in healthy people.


      There was strong evidence to support the use of the PME at least to the end of training to improve flexibility and dynamic balance and moderate evidence to enhance muscular endurance. Future RCTs should focus on the components of blinding, concealed allocation, subject adherence, intention-to-treat analysis, and follow-up designs.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      BES (best evidence synthesis), PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), PME (Pilates method of exercise), RCT (randomized controlled trial)
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