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The Pilate method is named after its creator, Joseph Pilates, who developed these exercises in the 1920s. It consists of movements that focus on good posture, balanced flexibility and strength. It can be performed on a machine called a Reformer or on a yoga mat on the floor. The Reformer uses pulleys plus the resistance of the participant’s body weight, with graduated spring levels.

Between the ages of 30 and 70, muscles weigh half as much, bone density decreases, resulting in decreased strength, loss of balance and more fragile joints. Similarly, the rib cage loses its elasticity, leading to a reduction in breathing capacity. But let’s put it into perspective, ageing is the same for everyone! And when we are aware of the changes in the body, we understand better how sport helps us to age better.

The good news is that physical activity delays the ageing of cells. Sport in general stimulates the brain, coordination, promotes balance and therefore helps to fight against memory and cardiovascular diseases.

Popular with many older people, senior pilates is beneficial in many ways! Both gentle and accessible, the benefits of this physical activity in retirement no longer need to be proven. It is through postures of sheathing and stretching that you become or regain awareness of certain muscles sometimes well hidden. Pilates is a gentle form of gymnastics that is suitable for seniors, as it focuses more on the execution of the movement rather than on its repetition and strength. Pilates is one of the best ways to develop functional core strength.

Neither violent nor traumatic for the body, senior pilates is an activity that can be practiced at any age. So whether you’re 60 or older, you can go for it! This practice has the advantage of being adapted to your physical condition. The only thing you need to do is to always listen to your body and adapt the movements to your feelings.

Older people often think that physical exercise can cause injuries and trauma: the opposite is true! With Pilates, you can eradicate some of the aches and pains caused by the immobility that comes with age. By regaining better sensations and the assurance of being able to use their body better, the elderly person also regains a certain moral strength which allows them to stop isolating themselves and to move!

If you are limited in performing the exercises due to poor balance or reduced mobility, try chair exercises!

We may not be able to reverse age-related changes, but we can slow the decline and improve our daily lives and ability to act.

Originally developed by Joseph Pilates, this gentle and effective training method consists of a series of exercises that teach you to activate and coordinate several muscle groups at once, starting with the core. While some classes incorporate equipment, such as a reformer, most movements can be done on a mat.

“Every movement you do originates in the core,” says Sean Vigue, Pilates instructor and author of Pilates for Athletes. This is true not only for Pilates exercises, but also for everyday movements like walking, standing and pushing a grocery cart, he says.

That’s why Pilates exercises, which help build overall strength, stability and coordination, are incredibly functional and can help you maintain your independence.

Case in point: A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that women over 65 who did one-hour Pilates sessions three times a week improved their strength, balance and reaction time after 12 weeks, compared to their non-Pilates counterparts.

But you don’t have to commit to hour-long Pilates sessions to see the benefits. In fact, you can see improvements in strength and stability with 10 to 15 minutes of dedicated exercise, says Vigue. The five movements below are a great place to start. All you need is some floor space and a mat.

Like yoga, Pilates encourages deep breathing. By focusing on the breath, you can achieve significant results in a shorter time. In addition to focusing on the breath, it is important to perform controlled movements with ease and fluidity. Pilates exercises are not meant to be rigid – every part of the body should move in one fluid motion.

Pilates is also designed with modifications so that people of all levels and abilities can stay safe while being physically challenged. It is a perfect exercise regime for older people as it does not have the impact on the body that other forms of exercise have and is not as harsh on the joints as most workouts. If you are wondering if Pilates is for you, it is important to think about what you want to achieve.

Most conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles that are more prone to injury, especially in older people. Pilates focuses on building a strong ‘core’ – the deep abdominal muscles as well as the muscles closest to the spine. Many of the exercises are performed in a lying or sitting position, and most are low impact and partially weight bearing. They can also have a positive effect on postural positions.

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Benefits of Pilates for Seniors

Pilates for seniors improves posture by strengthening the deep muscles. This helps to keep you upright and fight back pain, balance and can help prevent falls in the over 60s, joint range of motion, muscle flexibility, blood circulation and breathing.

Improving balance and flexibility

As we age, the risk of falling increases and the perception of the body in space is altered. There are Pilates exercises for standing that promote balance and improve stability. The risk of stiffness is also reduced with Pilates because the exercises always follow an eccentric muscle contraction regime, i.e. in the direction of lengthening the muscle. For the benefit of older people, Pilates teaches control and stability in a small range of motion, gradually moving to a larger range of motion as they gain control and confidence. And Pilates is also a good way for older people to rehabilitate after surgery, such as hip replacement or knee surgery

Improving posture

As time goes by, the back tends to stoop and the shoulders tend to move forward. Pilates strengthens the body in a harmonious way and the movements are all geared towards achieving a straight and aligned posture. With this method, you will regain a proud appearance, an important element for your self-esteem…

Improve your muscular strength

With Pilates, strength and endurance will improve, and you will be able to regain vigour and energy in your daily life! Your body will be much more toned thanks to gentle work on the deep muscles, which will allow a global and harmonious strengthening of the figure.

Improve mobility

Pilates is a sport that is essentially practiced on the floor. There are no sudden movements or shocks, so it is ideal for the joints. You will maintain your independence and gain confidence in your movements. In Pilates, we maintain the natural curvature of the back, thus balancing the pressure on the intervertebral discs. The constant use of the deep muscles stabilises the spine and pelvis, resulting in greater mobility of the body.

To combat osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects 1 in 3 women after the menopause. It leads to a decrease in bone density and is characterised by a very high degree of fragility of the skeleton bones, which can break very easily. The visible effect is vertebral compression, causing a decrease in height and the appearance of a hump in the back. Weight-bearing exercises, like many Pilates exercises, are often recommended as part of bone-strengthening programmes to prevent osteoporosis. However, once this pathology is present in the bones, the fitness scenario changes dramatically. Indeed, the exceptional balance challenges, some weight-bearing exercises, forward bending (flexion) and some twisting exercises – all part of regular Pilates practice – are not recommended for people with osteoporosis. Does this mean that they cannot do Pilates? No. It does mean, however, that training must be designed with osteoporosis in mind and must be led by a qualified Pilates instructor.

Pilates can improve strength and therefore increase bone density. Regular practice of this activity will put much more strain on the bone and force it to defend itself against calcium leakage.


Conseil sport Decathlon, « Faire du sport après 60 ans », Decathlon.

Fiona Bubb, « 7 Great benefits of pilates for seniors”, Elite Therapy, 8 October 2016.

Le Centre Pilates, «  Pilates pour les seniors », Le Centre Pilates.

L’Équipe, « Le Pilates, une arme anti-vieillissement », L’Équipe, 20 décembre 2021.

Ma vie de senior, «  Découvrez la gym pilate senior pour rester en forme à la retraite », Ma vie de senior.

Performance Health, “8 Pilates exercices to help improve senior health”, Performance Health.

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