Pilates for Mental Health – 9 Benefits For your Mind


Posted By: Pamela Toy

You will probably agree that Pilates is typically seen as a form of exercise beneficial for your physical well-being.

However, studies show that Pilates can also be quite beneficial for your mental health as well.

If you are struggling with depression or have thoughts of suicide, we highly suggest you seek professional medical help or call 911 immediately.

We are going to break down how Pilates can be beneficial for your mental health. All of our claims are backed by scientific studies conducted by reputable sources (see our references at the bottom).

Here are the 9 ways Pilates can be Beneficial for your Mental Health:
1. Staying Physically Active is Good for Your Mental Health
2. Helps with Depression and Anxiety
3. Helps Improve Sleep
4. Pilates Can Be a Mood Booster
5. Improves Energy
6. Pilates Improves Motivation
7. Pilates can improve your social life
8. Focuses on Breathing through Exercises
9. Improves Memory and Provides Training for the Brain

Let’s go ahead and jump in.

1. Staying Physically Active is Good for Mental Health


According to MedlinePlus, staying physically active is really good for your mental health. (1)

Exercise can often lead to a decrease in stress and anxiety.

Doing a Mat or Reformer workout can help you to blow off steam and allow you to take your mind off stressful events occurring in your life.

2. Helps with Depression and Anxiety

Depression and Anxiety can affect the lives of many. As a matter of fact, 6.8 million Americans suffer from anxiety and depression every year according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2)

According to MayoClinic, Depression and anxiety often improve with physical exercise. (3)

Another study shows that Pilates improves levels of anxiety and depression in overweight individuals over time. (4)

Bottom Line:

While Pilates isn’t a substitute for professional medical help, staying active and doing a challenging workout like Pilates can be beneficial.

3. Helps to Improve Sleep


There is strong evidence that a lack of sleep can lead to all types of mental health disorders and issues.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, Sleep problems were an issue 27% of the time prior to anxiety disorders. They also found that people with insomnia are more likely to develop major depression. (5)

You may be wondering how does Pilates fix sleep issues?

It turns out…

Pilates can improve sleep for people under the age of 40. (6, 7)

Exercise, in general, can be beneficial for improving sleep because you exert energy while doing activities.

Bottom Line:

Get in a Pilates workout every week! You may have an easier time falling asleep!

4. Pilates can be a Mood Booster


Everyone has their up and down days. However, there the down days can be particularly painful.

You may be wondering:

How can a Pilates workout improve my mood?

It turns out that working out can boost your endorphins, which helps you to experience pleasure. (8, 9)

Specifically, studies suggest that people who do Pilates are more likely to release negative thoughts. (10, 6)

Bottom Line:

Go and get a Pilates workout in! Not only are you going to develop a skill, but you may also see a positive uptick in your mood.

5. Improves Energy


According to this 2018 study, fatigue negatively affects over 90% of people with depression. (11)

You are probably wondering – Won’t exerting energy through a rigorous workout cause you to be more tired?

It turns out:

Doing Pilates can improve your overall energy. Because Pilates workouts focus heavily on your breath, it improves cardiorespiratory capacity. Studies show that this improves oxygen, feel-good hormones, and blood circulation. (12)

So while you may feel fatigued after a workout, your general energy level should be higher overall.

6. Pilates Improves Motivation


Motivation and depression are often intertwined as a lack of motivation is a characteristic of depression. (13)

While motivation alone can’t cure depression, it can help you on your path to recovery.

This study published in the Journal of Psychology found that physical activity can help to improve motivation. (14)

Another study specific to Pilates found that practitioners are typically driven by intrinsic motivation versus validation from their peers. (15)

Bottom Line:

Pilates is a skill that takes time to develop. This can keep you much more motivated than doing other forms of repetitive exercises like running on the treadmill.

7. Connecting with Other People


Humans are social creatures and it is very important to make connections with others. Having good social support can be helpful to combat/reduce stress. (1)

Pilates can help you to form and develop bonds with your peers and instructors. Finding a studio that promotes a friendly atmosphere can be a game-changer.

8. Focuses on Breathing through Exercises


Aren’t you curious why people always say take a deep breath when you are dealing with a stressful situation?

It turns out that breathing is very effective at relieving stress according to studies. (16)


Pilates focuses heavily on breathing.

For example, the hundred is an exercise where you have to coordinate your breath with movement. The purpose of the exercise is to pump your arms up and down while taking 5 breaths in and then 5 breaths out.

Bottom Line:

Pilates can help you relax through its focus on the breath. Why wouldn’t want to blow off steam while improving your physical condition?

9. Improves Memory and Provides Training for the Brain


Because Pilates forces you to coordinate your body and breath, it can provide a really great workout for your mind.

It turns out that Pilates can improve cognitive functioning according to studies. The studies assessed new neuron development, increased neurotransmitters, and the neurons that are responsible for memory, learning, and critical thinking. (17, 18, 19)

Additionally, people who are physically active are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. (20)

Bottom Line:

Working out is important not only for your body but also for your mind. As we get older, it is imperative to keep both sharp. Pilates is a great way to exercise both through exercises that are highly stimulating.


There you have it.

These are 9 ways Pilates your mental health can benefit from Pilates. There are plenty of other benefits regardless of your gender, but we wanted to keep today’s post specific because it is a question that pops up a lot.

If you are looking for in-person Pilates Training, check out our contact page to setup an appointment.

Related Posts


1. How to Improve Mental Health. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html.

2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Anxiety & Depression Disorder of America. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad.

3. Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495.

4. Vancini, R. L., Rayes, A., Lira, C., Sarro, K. J., & Andrade, M. S. (2017). Pilates and aerobic training improve levels of depression, anxiety and quality of life in overweight and obese individuals. Arquivos de neuro-psiquiatria, 75(12), 850–857. https://doi.org/10.1590/0004-282X20170149

5. Sleep and mental health. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health.

6. Chen, Z., Ye, X., Shen, Z., Chen, G., Chen, W., He, T., & Xu, X. (2020). Effect of Pilates on Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Frontiers in neurology, 11, 158. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.00158

7. Impact of Pilates on Anxiety Attention, Motivation, Cognitive function and Achievement of Students: Structural Modeling. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042815022697?via%3Dihub.

8. 13 Ways to Increase Endorphins. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-increase-endorphins.

9. Sprouse-Blum, A. S., Smith, G., Sugai, D., & Parsa, F. D. (2010). Understanding endorphins and their importance in pain management. Hawaii medical journal, 69(3), 70–71.

10. Fleming, K. M., Campbell, M., & Herring, M. P. (2020). Acute effects of Pilates on mood states among young adult males. Complementary therapies in medicine, 49, 102313. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102313

11. Ghanean, H., Ceniti, A.K. & Kennedy, S.H. Fatigue in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Prevalence, Burden and Pharmacological Approaches to Management. CNS Drugs 32, 65–74 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40263-018-0490-z

12. Pilates Method Improves Cardiorespiratory Fitness:
A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Clinical Medicine. https://www.fisiologiadelejercicio.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Pilates-Method-Improves-Cardiorespiratory-Fitness.pdf.

13. Tips for finding motivation with depression. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315862.

14. Oddie, S. , Fredeen, D. , Williamson, B. , DeClerck, D. , Doe, S. & Moslenko, K. (2014). Can Physical Activity Improve Depression, Coping & Motivation to Exercise in Children and Youth Experiencing Challenges to Mental Wellness?. Psychology, 5, 2147-2158. doi: 10.4236/psych.2014.519217.

15. Petracovschi (Ionescu), Simona. (2014). Motivation in practicing Yoga & Pilates and satisfying the need for self-knowledge. Timisoara Physical Education and Rehabilitation Journal. 7. 10.1515/tperj-2015-0020.

16. Research: Why Breathing Is So Effective at Reducing Stress. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/09/research-why-breathing-is-so-effective-at-reducing-stress.

17. Konul Memmedova, Impact of Pilates on Anxiety Attention, Motivation, Cognitive function and Achievement of Students: Structural Modeling,Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 186, 2015, Pages 544-548, ISSN 1877-0428,

18. Küçük, F., Kara, B., Poyraz, E. Ç., & İdiman, E. (2016). Improvements in cognition, quality of life, and physical performance with clinical Pilates in multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of physical therapy science, 28(3), 761–768. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.761

19. García-Garro, P. A., Hita-Contreras, F., Martínez-Amat, A., Achalandabaso-Ochoa, A., Jiménez-García, J. D., Cruz-Díaz, D., & Aibar-Almazán, A. (2020). Effectiveness of A Pilates Training Program on Cognitive and Functional Abilities in Postmenopausal Women. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(10), 3580. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103580

20. Alzheimer’s disease: Can exercise prevent memory loss?. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-disease/faq-20057881.