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J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012 Oct;16(4):549-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Changes in gait and balance parameters in elderly subjects attending an 8-week supervised Pilates programme.

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Anglo European College of Chiropractic, 14-15 Parkwood Rd, Bournemouth BH5 2DF, UK.


Falls in the elderly have important clinical and economic costs and interventions that may reduce the risk of such problems are potentially important. Although evidence exists for a range of exercise interventions, few have looked at a Pilates-based intervention in a supervised community-based setting and none have specifically measured gait parameters as an outcome. This observational study investigated gait parameters including inter-stride variability (ISV) and postural sway in a group (n = 9) of elderly (age range, 60-76) subjects attending a weekly Pilates class over eight weeks. The results suggest that significant improvement in walking speed (0.14 m/s (95% CI: 0.06-0.21)), step cycle (0.07 m (95% CI: 0.01-0.14)) and length (0.10 m (95% CI: 0.05-0.15)) and a composite ambulation index (6.5% (95% CI: 1.85-11.26)) were seen post the intervention, while coefficients of variation decreased around 15%. In addition both anterior-posterior sway decreased along with a improvement in a fall risk index (FRI). Inter-stride variability on the other hand did not change. The results of this study suggest that a short Pilates program may have the potential to improve gait and sway parameters, including those associated with fall risk.

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