April 01, 2020 at 10:06AM
Americans are no strangers to high blood pressure. One in every three adults have it, and nearly half of those people don’t have it under control. And if high blood pressure goes unchecked, it can eventually lead to heart attack or heart failure, stroke, metabolic syndrome or more.
There are lots of lifestyle choices people can make to support a healthy heart, with physical fitness a key to keep in mind. And according to a new paper in the American Journal of Hypertension, Pilates mat workouts were found to be an effective way to improve heart health. Here’s what they found.
This paper mentions an estimated 9 million people participate in Pilates, making it one of the most popular fitness options today. Because young, obese women are considered an at-risk population for hypertension and earlier vascular complications, this research wanted to look at how effective Pilates was in helping them lower it.
Pilates—and specifically mat Pilates—involves a series of movements that emphasize core strength, posture, flexibility, and the use of your breath.
For this study, researchers looked at young obese women between the ages of 19 and 27 who had high blood pressure. To prevent confounding variables, all the women were nonsmokers, had no chronic diseases, and were exercising less than 90 minutes per week.
They were studied over the course of 12 weeks, during which they did three hourlong Pilates sessions every week. Over the 12 weeks, the intensity of the workouts increased.
In the end, participants had lower blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and body fat on average when compared to the start of the study. The research team notes, “our findings provide evidence that mat Pilates benefits cardiovascular health,” adding, “because adherence to traditional exercise is low in obese individuals, mat Pilates training might prove an effective exercise alternative for the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular events.”