What puts pilates above other forms of exercise is that Pilates is almost for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you are an older adult or even a person who hasn’t been exercising for years.
You can almost always find Pilates exercise that suits your medical condition, fitness level, age or weight. The question to ask is ” how Pilates can be suitable for everyone?”.
The answer is easy though, Pilates is made up of over 600 exercises and variations, according to Healthline (1). That is what makes Pilates suitable for almost everybody.
If you do Pilates on a regular basis, you must be aware of the positive effects of Pilates on your health. However, if you have never done it before, you should know Pilates offers a variety of health benefits ranging from increasing core strength to decrease back pain.
While Pilates offers many physical benefits, it is also rather beneficial for your mental health. In fact, the positive mental effects of doing Pilates explain why it is becoming more and more popular around the world (2).
Well, it is not too surprising to hear that people become incline to stress-relieving activities such as Pilates. After all, psychological problems like anxiety or depression are more prevalent than ever before.
In the rest of the article, we are going to explore the (proven) positive mental effects of Pilates. So, without further ado, let’s dive into and explore the 5 positive effects of Pilates on your mental health.
1-) Helps Relieve Stress
As every one of us knows, there is no way to eliminate stress entirely. It is an inseparable part of life. However, if stress remains unmanaged, it can lead to problems like anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is important to deal with stress with effective methods before it turns into a more serious mental health problem.
So, the question is “can doing Pilates be one of the effective ways to cope with stress?”. Well, scientific studies and experts point out that Pilates has a stress-relieving effect. Let’s hear what they have to say.
One study examined the association between pilates exercises and mental benefits including stress relief. The findings demonstrated many psychological benefits of doing Pilates including stress relief and improved mood (3),(4).
In another study; researchers examined the effect of doing Pilates exercise (for 8 weeks) on stress management and cortisol levels in sedentary women. They discovered that practising Pilates regularly reduced cortisol levels and perceived stress score in sedentary women (5).
There are more studies that obtained nearly the same results. In short, it can be said that doing pilates exercise on a regular basis can help you better cope with stress, thus maintaining good mental health.
2-) May Improve Sleep Quality
Probably you know that long term sleep deprivation can lead to various physical and psychological problems. Since this article is about pilates and mental health, we should focus on the mental effects of sleep deprivation and how doing pilates may help prevent this sleep problem.
Then, there are two questions to ask.
- What are the mental effects of sleep deprivation?
- How doing Pilates increase your sleep quality and provide benefits to your mental health?
As Harvard Health Publishing indicates; Sleep and mental health are closely connected (6). When sleep is constantly disrupted for any reason, mental health problems like depression and bipolar disorders can happen as a result (6),(7),(8).
So, one thing is clear long-term sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your mental health! Now, let’s come to the second question, which is does doing Pilates exercise actually help you sleep better?
Once again, let’s look at studies and experts that can give us the most reliable answers.
In a 2020 study published on the Frontiers in Neurology; researchers aimed to determine the effect of Pilates on sleep quality. As per findings; they concluded: Overall, Pilates improved sleep quality, especially among the participants younger than 40-year-old (9),(10).
In a long term study; 99- middle-aged volunteers carried out a 12-week long Pilates exercise given to them by the researchers. The main goal was to assess the changes in volunteers’ sleep latency, sleep quantity and quality of life after completing the 12-week Pilates exercise program.
It appears that doing pilates on a regular basis could improve sleep quality and quantity, which in turn, contribute to mental health.
3-) Increases Self-Confidence
“No one is born with self-confidence. Self-confidence is learned and earned with experience,” says Denis Waitley (13). But, our topic is Pilates and mental health, what does self-confidence have to with these two subjects?
Essentially; Pilates, mental health and self-confidence may have a connection. Here is how…
Self-confidence and mental health are closely related. For instance, those who have low self-confidence and self-esteem are more susceptible to mental problems such as anxiety and depression (14),(15).
So, it is important for one to have enough self-confidence. There are things to improve self-confidence, that in turn will improve mental health. And, this is where Pilates comes into play. Pilates is known to have a self-confidence boosting effect. If you are asking how;
- Pilates triggers the secretion of feel-good hormones such as endorphins while decreasing stress levels in the body (5), (16). That, in turn, positively change the way you perceive yourself.
- Palates improves posture, making you feel and appear more confident among others.
- Pilates makes you fit, thus, making you feel more confident in your clothes whether in winter or summer.
- Pilates makes you more outgoing.
So, it appears that doing Pilates can significantly contribute to your self-image. Remember having greater self-confidence can make you stronger against mental problems.
4-) Helps Control Your Emotions
Emotions play a huge role in our lives, although we sometimes overlook their importance. They affect our lives from various angles. They can affect how we behave, feel or speak. Since emotions are too strong and are able to influence our lives, being able to control them is vital.
For instance; If you can’t control your anger you may harm yourself or others around you. Or if you can’t control your sadness it can even lead you to depression. In short, if you don’t control your emotions they will control you!
The question is can pilates help you better control your emotions? Well, medical experts underline the importance of meditation for controlling emotions more effectively, for instance; yoga (17),(18).
Bear in mind that, pilates is a moving meditation, and that what makes this form of exercise so special.
The conclusion is by practising pilates you may be able to better manage your emotions and avoid mental problems that can occur due to uncontrolled emotions.
5-) Makes You Happier
Last but not least at all. Simply put, doing Pilates regularly makes you happier. You may want to ask how? Essentially, we have answered this question in the first 4 sections. Pilates can make you happier because;
- It can help relieve stress
- Pilates can improve your sleep quality
- It can increase your self-confidence
- It can help you better control your emotions.
All of these variables can make you feel happier. The happier you are the less risk you carry for developing mental problems.
It is also important to note that; other types of exercise as well can help you to build a strong, fit and healthy body. But, when it comes to promoting mental health; Pilates might be the best form of exercise.
Other Benefits of Doing Pilates on a Regular Basis
Thus far we have talked about the mental benefits of doing Pilates. But, it is also important to point out that Pilates can also enhance brain functions. Here is some of them…
♦ Improves Memory
♣ Improves Creativity
♦ Improves Concentration
Being physically active is key for a happy and healthy life, as scientists and doctors emphasise at every chance. Indeed, all other healthy sports will also contribute to your psychically and mental health.
Yet, in terms of mental benefits Pilates may overrun others. And, this may also explain why pilates is becoming more and more common around the world.
Tarkan is an experienced health writer ( currently more than 600 articles ) and also the founder of this website namely www.neededforhealth.com. His expertise in health stems from in-depth medical research and knowledge which he obtained over the course of many years.
Tarkan enjoys sharing factual knowledge on health, psychology and nutrition. He always aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations, provide links to related scientific studies.