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New Plus For Pilates

Pilates is best known as a sometimes intensive form of strength training that can help relieve back pain and build core stabilizing muscles. Now a small study from Spain suggests that the exercises can help older women with aching backs improve their balance, as well as reduce the fear of falling. Researchers at the University of Jaen followed 97 women over age 65 who were given two physiotherapy sessions per week that included 40 minutes of nerve stimulation plus 20 minutes of massage and stretching exercises. Half the women also took two hours of Pilates instruction per week. After six weeks, the women who performed Pilates reported a reduced risk of falling, a change that did not occur among the other women participating. The researchers also relayed that the women in the Pilates group had greater improvements in balance as well as less back pain than the others in the study. They tested the women’s balance with a timed test that required them to stand up from a chair, walk three meters (about 10 feet) turn, and sit down again. More studies are needed to evaluate the longer-term effect of Pilates on balance and whether or not the findings apply to younger women, the researchers said.