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Equipment-based pilates induces a cardiovascular response in older adults; an observational clinical trial

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 21:51 authored by Marie-Louise BirdMarie-Louise Bird, Austin, R, Fazackerley, L, Almond, J

Introduction: Pilates improves the postural balance, strength and flexibility of older adults, but cardiovascular responses while using equipment-based Pilates is not known.

Methods: Regular Pilates participants over the age of 60 with stable blood pressure were invited to join the study, and were excluded if they took beta blocker medication. The cardiovascular effects of equipment-based Pilates classes were assessed by measuring participant’s heart rates (HR) using Polar HR monitors (Polar TEAM2 Software) and rating of perceived exertion (BORG 6-20) during a regular Pilates class. After a mat based warm up, seven exercises (using reformer, trapeze, Wunda chair and core-align) were performed for five minutes each in a circuit format, and averaged HR was recorded for each epoch and the whole class. Calculations for each participant’s individual workload were based on percentage of estimated maximal heart rate (training zone = 55% of MHR). After all exercises were complete, participants gave a rating of perceived exertion indicating how strenuous the session was.

Results: Eighteen healthy older adults (70.7(4.2) years; resting heart rate 63(6.0) bpm) completed the study. Average exercising heart rate was 87(8) bpm for the 35 minutes of equipment exercise. Participants spent an average 22.6 (9.9) minutes within their training zone. Exercises in standing positions produced a significantly greater cardiovascular effect with an average of 3.7(1.8) minutes per exercise in the training zone compared to supine exercises with 2.2(1.9) minutes in the training zone (P = 0.0001). Overall perceived exertion was 12.7(1.7) ranging from 10 (light) to 16 (hard).

Conclusion: Exercises using the large lower body muscles and resistance from Pilates equipment elevates the heart rate into the training zone in older adults. Potential exists to design Pilates classes to meet multiple components of the exercise guidelines that apply to older adults.


Publication title

Journal of Fitness Research








School of Health Sciences


Australian Institute of Fitness

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2016, Australian Institute of Fitness

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Allied health therapies (excl. mental health services)