HealthDay News — Compared with traditional cardiac rehabilitation, Pilates exercises significantly improved functional capacity in patients with heart failure (HF) and may be a beneficial adjunctive treatment, study results suggest.

HF patients who underwent training with the Pilates method in combination with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise had greater increases in exercise time, ventilation (P= 0.02), peak oxygen consumption (VO2; P= 0.01) and O2 pulse (P= 0.003) during the 16 week study period compared with those assigned to aerobics and conventional cardiac rehabilitation, Guilherme Veiga Guimarães, MD, of the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues reported in Cardiovascular Therapeutics.

Although Pilates has become increasingly popular due to it’s purported therapeutic benefits, little scientific evidence supports it’s use in patients with heart failure.

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To better understand Pilates’ potential benefits, Veiga Guimarães and colleagues randomly assigned 16 patients with New York Heart Association class I or II heart failure to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise followed by 20 minutes of either mat Pilates training or a conventional cardiac rehabilitation program for 16 weeks.

At 16 weeks, the researchers found that patients in both groups showed a significant increase in exercise time, but increases were greater for the Pilates group — increasing from 11.9 to 17.8 minutes vs. 11.7 to 14.2 minutes.

Furthermore, only the Pilates training exhibited significant increases from baseline in ventilation (P= 0.02), peak oxygen consumption (VO2; P= 0.01), and O2 pulse (P= 0.003). Compared with the conventional group, peak VO2 was significantly improved in the Pilates group (24.8 vs. 18.3; P= 0.02).

“The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of a combined aerobic training and mat Pilates method by its safe and functional capacity improvements in patients with heart failure,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Veiga Guimarães G et al. Cardiovasc Ther. 2012;30(6):351-356.