Review article| Volume 96, ISSUE 12, P2231-2242, December 2015

Pilates Method for Women's Health: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Published:April 22, 2015DOI:



      To critically analyze the benefits of Pilates on health outcomes in women.

      Data Sources

      CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, Science Direct, SPORTDiscus, Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Web of Science.

      Study Selection

      Databases were searched using the terms Pilates and Pilates Method. Published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included if they comprised female participants with a health condition and a health outcome was measured, Pilates needed to be administered, and the article was published in English in a peer-reviewed journal from 1980 to July 2014.

      Data Extraction

      Two authors independently applied the inclusion criteria to potential studies. Methodological quality was assessed using the PEDro scale. A best-evidence grading system was used to determine the strength of the evidence.

      Data Synthesis

      Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. PEDro scale values ranged from 3 to 7 (mean, 4.5; median, 4.0), indicating a relatively low quality overall. In this sample, Pilates for breast cancer was most often trialed (n=2). The most frequent health outcomes investigated were pain (n=4), quality of life (n=4), and lower extremity endurance (n=2), with mixed results. Emerging evidence was found for reducing pain and improving quality of life and lower extremity endurance.


      There is a paucity of evidence on Pilates for improving women's health during pregnancy or for conditions including breast cancer, obesity, or low back pain. Further high-quality RCTs are warranted to determine the effectiveness of Pilates for improving women's health outcomes.


      List of abbreviations:

      BES (best-evidence synthesis), PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), QOL (quality of life), RCT (randomized controlled trial), WHO (World Health Organization)
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