How Pilates Benefits Your Mental Health

pilates for mental health

Since Joseph Pilates first opened his studio in the early 20th century, Pilates has been used around the world for improving flexibility and posture, injury recovery, strengthening and toning muscles, weight loss, and more. But did you know Pilates has a direct correlation with improving mental health? Let’s look at some of the ways Pilates benefits mental health:

Find mindfulness in movement

Pilates is a mindful practice with breathing at the center of every movement. Breath is one of the most powerful tools to connect with your body and calm the mind.

Breathing is one of Joseph Pilates’ 8 Principles of Pilates and is an essential component of all Pilates classes.

See this video of the Anatomy of Breathing in Pilates.

Pilates directs your focus inward to help you be present and feel the muscle mind connection in your body. Breath to movement in Pilates gives you a meditative space for your mind to clear and de-stress.

Added bonus: mindfulness and breathing in Pilates does more than help calm you, it also improves brain function and memory. You’re practicing a new skill which strengthens and challenges the brain, while simultaneously getting your blood pumping and oxygen flowing. This improves cognitive function and increases neurotransmitters and neurotrophins which assures the survival of neurons in areas responsible for learning, memory, and higher thinking. *Clinical Trials: Effect of Pilates Training on Cognitive Functions in Patients With Stroke

Manage stress & relax

Who doesn’t love the post-Pilates feeling when your endorphins are high and you feel that instant mood boost?

Stress can cause serious health issues; like headaches, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, and more. Finding solutions like exercise can help manage stress by reducing cortisol, the stress hormone.

All exercise releases cortisol, but Pilates takes it one step further by incorporating breath to movement to help reduce the fight-or-flight response you feel when stressed.

To help manage stress, remember to take what you need, when you need it. Feel like you need a sweaty, fast-paced workout to take your mind off things? Try this Mat Burst 20-minute class! Want to slow it down and shut off the noise? Check out this Stretch & Relax class.

Cope with depression & anxiety

In a research study conducted by the World Journal of Sport Sciences, researchers measured levels of serotonin in depressed women who incorporated 30-45 minutes of Pilates, 3 days a week over a 12 week period.

The results proved how beneficial Pilates is for treating depression & anxiety. After 12 weeks of regular Pilates classes, the women had a significant increase in serotonin and 34% drop in severity of depression.

“The monoamines in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, have an improved transmission rate when exercising occurs. This is beneficial for those depressed because such chemicals in the brain directly affect on mood.” – Hassan, World Journal of Sport Sciences

A major characteristic of depression is rumination. If you have this mental illness, you tend to get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts that are hard to shake. Exercise, especially with the inward focus that Pilates has, breaks this cycle.

Get in your body & out of your head

How often do you get into the vicious cycle of overthinking which leads to negative thought patterns that seems impossible to get out of?

One of the best things to do if you find yourself evaluating past or future you rather than being present is to get in your body and out of your head through movement.

One of the best ways to maximize the benefits of Pilates for your mental health is to make it a habit. Try to incorporate physical activity into your every day to boost your mental health, and aim to include Pilates at least two-three times per week to get these amazing benefits.


To note: The mental benefits of Pilates can be profound, but this is not a cure for a mental illness. Use it as a supplement to medical care. If you struggle with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, see your doctor or contact a mental health professional.

Want workouts designed to make you feel good in your body and mind? Check out our new Mental Health Series!

Marina Urbina’s friendly, fun and supportive teaching takes you through six no-equipment mat classes that tackle the problematic states of mind that block us from feeling good. With specially designed classes including Anxiety Blaster, Morning Joy, lunchtime Recharge Snack, Midweek Boost, Sunday Scaries and Evening Wind Down you always have a tool to turn to when you’re in need of a mental health break!

This series is for anyone looking to shift out of negativity into positive vibes. Get ready to feel strong, happy and empowered.

In this series, you will:

– Enjoy moving your body with positivity and self-love

– Reduce stress and anxiety

– Enhance your ability to downshift and sleep well

– Feel the incredible impact that self-care can make on your mental state

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Katelyn Galante

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