Pilates is an excellent form of low impact exercise for people with neurological conditions. Neurological conditions are those affecting the brain and spinal cord such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. These conditions often lead to weakness, reduced or increased muscle tone and reduced balance.  Pilates is a series of exercises designed to improve core strength, posture, balance and flexibility.  Pilates equipment uses resistance through a variety of springs rather than bands or weights. The client must practice control as the spring opens and closes.   These low-impact movements focus on flexibility, core strength, and endurance and are designed to improve balance, postural alignment, and stability.

There’s almost nothing that could bring you into a doctor’s office that exercise can’t improve.  All types of exercise appear to be beneficial, including yoga, tai chi, and Pilates.  Parkinson’s disease(PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world, generates large social and health costs.  The impairment caused by PD is largely due to motor dysfunction that progressively limits the functional autonomy of the patient.  Scientists believe Pilates helps boost brain-body signaling, which goes awry in PD. When you do an exercise over and over, your brain shouts to your muscles, “Hey, come help us!” More muscles start to join the fun, and eventually, you get stronger. This is called patterning.  Patterning is a normal body muscle reaction, but it can fade with the loss of dopamine, which occurs with Parkinson’s disease.


In a study specific to assessing whether Pilates could improve balance, test group participants who completed an eight week exercise program, showed a significant improvement in functional balance.    Further the premise of this investigative study was specifically to identify an effective exercise means to improve postural instability.  As one of the most common debilitating factors of PD, postural instability can lead to increased risk of falls, reduced mobility and impaired functional capacity.


Pilates training improved the quality of life for 40 stroke survivors who participated in a 60-minute program twice a week for 12 weeks.


In a randomized, controlled trial published in the International Journal of MS Care in 2018, 30 participants with MS either did Pilates twice a week and had a weekly massage or only got a weekly massage. The Pilates group experienced greater improvements in walking and functional ability than the massage-only group.