Pilates promises to make you longer, leaner and more functional. In these promises, weight loss is implied — but is it realistic to expect to drop pounds with this mind-body exercise?
Yes, Pilates can help you lose weight — but the key word is help. If you take up a Pilates practice, but fail to curb junk-y eating habits and continue to sit all other hours of the day, it's unlikely to affect the scale much.
You may hear that Pilates makes your muscles longer, which really isn't possible. What Pilates can do is make your muscles appear longer. Muscle length is genetically predisposed, but whether you maximize this length when you sit and stand is another matter.
Pilates exercises strengthen deep muscles in your abdomen and back, including the transverse abdominis and the paraspinals. Standing up tall and straight becomes second nature, making you appear thinner.
The strong postural muscles you acquire through Pilates also help improve your body composition and cause you to store less fat in your midsection, showed a 2016 study published in Physical Therapy Science. The benefits to the 36 women in the study (20 practiced Pilates; 16 were in the control group with no practice) occurred after 12 weeks of three Pilates sessions per week.