Diabetes and Pilates

pilates benchDiabetes and Pilates? Unlike some exercise programs (such as Yoga), there are no studies that promote Pilates as a method of preventing or treating diabetes. In fact, the one study I found regarding Pilates and diabetes specifically determined that Pilates had no effect on metabolic control in type 1 diabetic teenagers.

However, this study did determine that Pilates helped them gain strength, flexibility and increased vertical jump. While not specifically linked to diabetic control, exercise in all forms does help increase your ability to self manage diabetes. Let’s take a look at some of these studies to determine if this exercise is right for you.


One interesting study found that a 12 week Pilates program helped sedentary individuals sleep better. Apparently, doing regular exercise helps you sleep better! Who doesn’t need better sleep?

Another study found that an 8 week Pilates program helped older participants improve their ability to walk and improved their over all balance. While I am not elderly, I do note that I do not have the same balance and body control I had when I was 20 years old. Obviously, avoiding injury is a big part of maintaining good diabetes control, so this study is encouraging.

Arguably the most encouraging of these studies involved the effect of Pilates on sedentary obese women. Doing Pilates for 1 hour a day, 4 days a week, for 8 weeks showed improvement for weight, BMI, Lean body mass, body measurements, body fat percentage, resting metabolic rate, and flexibility.

There are 168 hours in every 7 day period. Thus, you need to find 4 of them to get going with Pilates!


diabetes and pilatesJoseph Pilates created the exercise program in early twentieth century Germany. He believed that core strength was the most important aspect of conditioning.

His program originally was called “contrology” and focused on six key disciplines: breathing, centering, concentration, control, precision, and flow and efficiency.

Pilates traditionally has used a machine called the “reformer.” However, today the exercise regime has also been adapted to be used on a mat.


Exercise, of almost any kind, is a key component to good diabetes management as well as helping people avoid diabetes altogether. You know this or you wouldn’t be reading this article. Pilates is simply another exercise program that can be used to help you accomplish your fitness goals.


  • Proven Commodity.

Pilates is a proven set of exercises that strengthens and conditions the body’s key core areas.

  • Availability.

Pilates classes are widely available at most good health clubs and on DVD, so getting started is easy.

  • Convenient and Inexpensive.

Mat Pilates can be done at your own home, learning techniques from TV or a DVD.

  • Low Impact.

The program is a low impact series of exercise. If you hurt your knee in another lifetime, this still allows you to exercise without running or jumping.

  • Variety.

Exercise can be boring. Pilates allows you to have fun and try something new!


Effect of Pilates on sleep quality and quality of life of sedentary population, J Body Mov Ther. 2013 Jan;17(1):5-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.10.001. Epub 2012 Nov 20. (Accessed February 2013).

Changes in gait and balance parameters in elderly subjects attending an 8-week supervised Pilates programme, Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012   Oct;16(4):549-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Feb 28 (accessed February 2013).
The effects of Pilates on metabolic control and physical performance in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus J Diabetes Complications, 2012 Jul-Aug;26(4):348-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2012.04.006. Epub 2012 May 17 (accessed February 2013).
The effect of 8 week pilates exercise on body composition in obese women, Coll Antropol. 2011 Dec;35(4):1045-50 (accessed February 2013).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed April 2012.