African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Evaluation of Pilates training on agility, functional mobility and cardiorespiratory fitness in elderly women

GM Gildenhuys, M Fourie, I Shaw, BS Shaw, AL Toriola, J Witthuhn


Although, Pilates training has gained popularity and is performed with great ease by the elderly, little is known about this mode of training on the development of agility, functional mobility and VO2max. The study was conducted to ascertain the effects of Pilates training on agility, functional mobility and VO2max in elderly woman. Fifty inactive, apparently healthy females aged 60 and older were randomly assigned to either a control (CON) (n = 25) or a Pilates training (PIL) (n = 25) group. The subjects in the PIL group participated in an eight-week progressive mat Pilates training programme, three times weekly. The subjects in the CON group were requested not to participate in any structured exercise throughout the eight-week period. Results obtained from the present study indicate that eight-weeks of Pilates training significantly improved agility as measure by the eight-foot up-and-go test (from 6.18 } 1.22 sec to 4.70 } 0.90 sec; p = 0.000) and functional mobility as measured by the sit-to-stand one-repetition test (from 1.35 } 0.33 sec to 0.91 } 0.23 sec; p = 0.000), sit-to-stand five-repetition test (from 9.81 } 2.08 sec to 6.97 } 1.34 sec; p = 0.000) and pick-up weight test (from 2.15 } 0.77 sec to 1.29 } 0.18 sec; p = 0.000). However, the eight weeks of Pilates training did not significantly (p . 0.05) improve VO2max (from 17.56 } 2.76 -1 min -1 to 18.14 } 2.12 -1 min -1; p = 0.247). Pilates appears to be a cost-effective, pleasant and mild activity that can be easily performed by the elderly, especially when compared to the more demanding forms of exercise. The elderly or those with impaired mobility wishing to increase their agility and functional mobility may benefit by participating in Pilates and as such, prolong their independency. However, additional modes of exercise should be utilised as an adjunct to Pilates to improve cardiorespiratory fitness.

Keywords: Aged, aerobic capacity, calisthenics; exercise, functional ability.

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