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Pain Management

The Mental Health Benefits of Pilates

The Pilates exercise program can have a positive mental effect on people living with chronic conditions.

Researchers looked at 15 women and seven men to determine what benefits they got from Pilates. The participants, age 36 to 83, suffered from a range of chronic musculoskeletal ailments. These included nonspecific low back pain, peripheral joint osteoarthritis and a variety of post-surgical conditions. (See “Low Back Pain Call to Action.”) Investigators collected their data via recordings of four focus groups in northwest England physiotherapy clinics. The results were published in the journal Musculoskeletal Care.

In the study, researchers confirmed previous conclusions about patients benefiting from Pilates, a physical conditioning system emphasizing low-impact exercise and stretches designed to improve flexibility and posture.

“Improving function in meaningful activities produced social benefits.”

But the investigators’ analysis also showed more benefits such as an increasingly active lifestyle and the ability of a patient to monitor his or her own condition more efficiently. Additionally, the investigators found improvement in participants’ mental health and social lives.

group of seniors talking, laughing

“The study was unique in that it investigated individual perceptions of the impact of Pilates on the daily lives of people with a myriad of chronic musculoskeletal conditions. The Pilates based exercise program was a facilitator to enable the participants to function better and manage their condition more effectively and independently,” said co-author Lynne Gaskell, of the University of Salford, in the UK. “Improving function in meaningful daily activities produced psychological and social benefits that increased motivation to adhere to the program.”

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