Mat Pilates may be an effective strategy to improve cardiovascular health for young obese women, a population that is at risk for hypertension and early vascular complications, a study in American Journal of Hypertension suggests.

Mat Pilates training emphasizes core strength, flexibility, body posture, and controlled breathing.

In the study, researchers investigated young obese women (age 19-27) with elevated blood pressure and a body mass index between 30-40kg/m2 through 12 weeks of mat Pilates. The participants were free of chronic diseases, were non-smokers and performed less than 90 minutes of regular exercise per week. Participants performed three one-hour training sessions per week, divided into the following stages: initial warm-up and stretch (10 minutes), general mat Pilates exercises (40 minutes), and a cool-down (10 minutes). The training increased over the 12 weeks, with the repetition of each exercise steadily increasing. A certified mat Pilates instructor supervised all sessions.

“We hypothesized that mat Pilates might decrease the risk of hypertension in young obese women. Our findings provide evidence that mat Pilates benefits cardiovascular health by decreasing blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and body fatness in young obese women with elevated blood pressure,” the researchers write, in a media release from Oxford University Press USA.

“Because adherence to traditional exercise (both aerobic and resistance) is low in obese individuals, mat Pilates training might prove an effective exercise alternative for the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular events in young obese adults.”

[Source(s): Oxford University Press USA, EurekAlert]