Pilates may improve blood pressure in women

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Mat pilates may be an effective strategy to improve cardiovascular health for young obese women, a population that is at risk for hypertension and early vascular complications, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Hypertension.

In recent years, Pilates training has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. It has become one of the most widely known wellness routines in the United States. The program emphasizes core strength, flexibility, body posture, and controlled breathing.

At the same time, the prevalence of obesity in young adults has become a major public health issue. Though it is well-documented that exercise is a key factor in preventing and managing cardiovascular health problems, obese women tend not to maintain traditional workout routines. Despite sources in the media reporting on the cardiovascular benefits of Pilates, the existing scientific literature is scarce.

Researchers here studied young obese women, age 19 to 27, with elevated blood pressure and a body mass index between 30 and 40 through 12 weeks of mat Pilates. The participants were free of chronic diseases, were non-smokers, and performed less than 90 minutes of regular exercise per week.

There were three one-hour training sessions per week, which were divided into the following stages: initial warm up and stretch for 10 minutes, general mat Pilates exercises for 40 minutes, and a cool down for 10 minutes. The training increased over the 12 weeks, with the repetition of each exercise steadily increasing. A certified mat Pilates instructor supervised all sessions.

The researchers found that mat Pilates benefited cardiovascular health by decreasing blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and body fatness in young obese women with elevated blood pressure. As adherence to traditional exercise, both aerobic and resistance, is low in obese individuals, the researchers said the study may provide and effective alternative for the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular events in young obese adults.