Pilates For Older Adults

In this article I’m going to share with you why Pilates for older adults is a safe and effective way to slow down the ageing process and help keep you moving more freely and easily as you age.

As we age keeping fit is essential, but many forms of exercise can be too harsh on our bodies, due to wear and tear through the natural ageing process.

We need to be mindful of working around stiff achy muscles and joints and other medical conditions and not make our symptoms worse.

But we also need to be able to work on improving our muscular and bone strength, mobility, flexibility and balance. Which for many people these decrease massively as they age.

These significant changes can affect your daily activities due to fear of falling or injury. Which may result in a loss of your independence and reduce your overall health and wellbeing

The great news is that a starting a consistence exercise programme such as Pilates (which many experts agree is one of the best ways for older adults to stay fit and healthy), can alleviate or improve typical symptoms of aging.

Pilates also helps with a variety of age-related conditions such as:

Arthritis – Improving mobilisation of joints and strengthening core stabilising muscles around the joints. Which in return reduces pain and discomfort and improves general mobility.

Osteoporosis –Performing weight-bearing exercises is key to slowing bone deterioration and improving bone density

Pilates can even help with brain trauma like a Stroke – The quicker you can start balance exercises and get stroke sufferers bodies moving symmetrically, the better their overall recovery will be.

Pilates is a great full-body, low impact and gentle way to help strengthen our bodies.  

And is accessible to all, regardless of your age, conditioning or ability. It is never too late to start a Pilates practice, as Pilates can meet you exactly where you are.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of Pilates for older adults.

Benefits of Pilates For Older Adults

Improves Bone Density

Studies have shown that Pilates improves bone density, especially in peri and postmenopausal women

This is so important as the massive drops women get in their Oestrogen levels, makes us a higher risk of developing Osteoporosis.

Low bone mass and deterioration of overall bone quality are the characteristics of Osteoporosis. This means we develop weak, fragile bones that may break more easily, even when doing simple movements such as walking and twisting.

This increases the risk of fractures especially in our hips, spine, shoulders and wrists which can be debilitating and even cause death.

Increasing our bone density through weight-bearing exercises is key to slowing down the deterioration of the bones if you have Osteoporosis or reducing the chances of developing the onset of Osteopenia (which is the early stages of Osteoporosis).

Improves Posture

Have you ever noticed that loved ones tend to shrink as they get older? Sometimes becoming quite kyphotic and slouching forward

This is a term known as Hyperkyphosis, an excessive anterior curvature of the thoracic spine. This is often referred to as Dowagers Hump.

This condition may develop through degenerative disc disease, muscle weakness or possible Vertebral fractures. It has a massive impact on your mobility and can increase your risk of falls and fractures.

Misalignment and poor postural habits over the years contribute to both to loss of bone density and poor posture as we age. These imbalances can often cause pain and discomfort.

Pilates focuses on improving your alignment, encourages good postural habits and improves your strength and flexibility which will result in better posture and in being more body aware.

Reduces the risks of falls through Improving Balance & Gait

As we mentioned above poor posture, muscle weakness and mobility, alongside poor balance and gait can all increase the risk of falls.

Good balance and co-ordination are so important, as these can decrease significantly as we age. These are also needed for us to perform everyday tasks such as walking.

Poor balance and gait can result in many older adults becoming more inactive due to the fear of falling. Which then speeds up their loss of muscle and bone density through being inactive. It is a vicious circle!

We also have to consider that some people start to suffer with conditions such as Arthritis, Water Retention etc which create stiff, swollen feet and joints, effecting their ankle mobility. All this can have a knock on effect on their gait, resulting in that shuffling or dragging of the legs we sometimes notice in older adults.

Pilates helps you to increase your strength and flexibility in both your core muscles and your legs which helps you improve your balance.

In our Pilates classes we focus on balance exercises and gait exercises to help to strengthen your trunk, hips, legs, and ankles.

Improves Mobility

Mobility is the balance of flexibility and strength that allows you a full and controlled range of movement. Strength alone can leave your muscles feeling stiff and tight. Flexibility alone can leave your body feeling weak, un-supported and prone to injury.

Pilates exercises are performed in a slow and controlled manner which helps to build strength and stability in our muscles and a good range of movement in our joints. Making everyday activities much easier.

Reduces Back Pain

Pilates exercises focus on improving your core. The core consists of the muscles of the shoulders, back, trunk, hips and pelvic floor, which all help to support your spine.

When you have a strong core, your back is supported much better which in turn will reduce any back pain you may suffer with.

Many of our Pilates members (including lots of older adults), have made significant improvements in their lower back pain due to practicing Pilates. In some cases in a matter of weeks.

Check out some of our member testimonials below, to see how Pilates has made a postive difference to helping them to improve their Back Pain 


Pre and Post Surgery Rehabilitation

Pilates is a good way for older adults to prepare and rehabilitate after surgeries such as a hip or knee replacement.

Factors which affect your ability to recover quickly and fully after these surgeries are your health, physical condition, age, attitude and adherence to rehab exercises.  So the stronger you are before surgery will help massively in your recovery afterwards.

After your surgery and once your physio has given you the go ahead, you can perform (and in some cases adapt) Pilates exercises to help you to increase your range of movement, flexibility, strength and stamina of your joints and muscles.

Benefits of these exercises may be seen with improved balance and return to other physical activities much quicker.

Improves Your Mood and Decreases Stress

Pilates is a mind-body practice focusing on using your breath in conjunction with the movement. This creates better body awareness and also helps to calm the nervous system.

Our Pilates members are always telling me how much better they feel after class, both physically and mentally. They also experience a much better nights sleep too, due to the calming effects (especially if they attend an evening class).

Studies have also shown that Pilates enhances your mood, decreases stress, anxiety and depression.

Improves Memory and Cognitive Function

Pilates increases blood circulation in the brain, which contributes to developing new nerve cells and pathways for brain functions like thinking, reasoning, memory, and learning.

Considerations for older adults when attending Pilates classes

Choose Highly Qualified Pilates Instructors

Ensure you choose a highly qualified Pilates instructor who has experience in working with older adults.

Preferably who is also aware about how to adapt and make modifications to Pilates exercises for people suffering with medical conditions.

Myself and our team are all highly qualified and have attended many workshops and courses specialising in conditions such as Osteoporosis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia and Joint Hypermobility, Chronic Back Pain and Spinal Conditions, Exercise Referral and many others.

This is to ensure we know what Pilates exercises are not suitable and are what we call contraindications to people with specific conditions. And also to know how to adapt the exercises or what alternatives to give instead.

For example people with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis should avoid excessive twisting and loaded flexion like Rolldown or Rolling Like a Ball.

With this in mind, I would highly recommend avoiding large group classes (as you typically see in gyms), as the instructor can not give you the individual attention you would benefit from.

Ensure You Have Access To Props

Pilates instructors should have numerous tools such as Head Blocks, Seated Blocks, Resistance Bands etc to help you achieve better alignment and give you support in some positions.

Also having access to chairs, wall bars and walls is important to some older adults. As you made need assistance in getting up and down from the floor or support while performing balance exercises.

Some older adults may benefit from using a chair to perform Pilates exercises through seated positions on the chair to standing positions at the back of the chair. 

A good instructor should have a toolbox of exercises to enable them to give seated and standing options while the rest of the class perform the Pilates exercises on the floor.


With the general population people living longer it is so important that we try and maintain a good quality of life. We can do this through keeping as strong, mobile and as active as we can, to help slow down the ageing process, minimise or avoid pain and discomfort, reduce your risks of falls and fractures and keep your independence for many years to come.

Pilates, with all its variety and modifications is a safe and effective form of exercise for older adults to slow down the ageing process and help keep you moving more freely and easily as you age.

Find out more about our 21 day Pilates Introductory Programme (by clicking on the link below), to start your Pilates journey today!