Effect of Pilates exercises in risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases: a systematic review

Silvana Junges, Camila Bittencourt Jacondino, Maria Gabriela Gottlieb


Aims: To perform a systematic review of the literature on the effect of Pilates on risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases.

Methods: The search was conducted in the LILACS, SciELO, PubMed, and Scopus databases both in English and in Portuguese. The search term used was Pilates exercise combined with the following key words and their equivalents in Portuguese: sedentary lifestyle, obesity, body mass index, body composition, blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. The inclusion criteria consisted of intervention studies on Pilates, original articles in English and Portuguese available in their full-length versions, and target population with at least one cardiometabolic risk factor and with a sedentary lifestyle. Studies that failed to meet these criteria were excluded. The articles were collected from 2004 to 2014, and this review was written between July 2014 and January 2015.

Results: Ninety-three articles were selected, but only seven met the selection criteria. Of these, three studies (42.86%) investigated the effect of Pilates on classic cardiometabolic risk factors: triglycerides, glucose, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, but no beneficial results were obtained for these parameters in the intervention group. On the other hand, six (85.71%) out of the seven studies, revealed statistically significant reductions in some of the following factors: systolic and diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, body fat percentage, fat mass, and waist-to-hip ratio between the intervention and control groups (P<0.05).

Conclusions: Pilates has proven effective in reducing body fat percentage, fat mass, waist-to-hip ratio, and systemic blood pressure in different-aged individuals. These benefits, mainly the reduction of waist-to-hip ratio and of systemic blood pressure, have a clinically relevant impact on morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. However, more randomized controlled trials need to be conducted in this area.


Pilates; Exercise; Physical therapy modalities; Cardiovascular Diseases; Diabetes mellitus; Obesity.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15448/1980-6108.2015.1.19839

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