Pilates Reformer exercises for fall risk reduction in older adults: A randomized controlled trial

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 Oct;22(4):983-998. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.09.004. Epub 2017 Sep 9.


Objective: To investigate the effects of Pilates exercises using a Reformer on measures of fall risk, balance and mobility, self-efficacy, and active range of motion in adults age 65 and over at risk for falls compared to a control group.

Design: Randomized Controlled Trial.

Methods: Fifty-five subjects (27 Pilates intervention, 28 control; 38 females, 17 males; mean age 77.6 years, range 65-95) were randomly assigned to either a Pilates Reformer intervention group or a control group (no intervention). Subjects in the intervention group attended a Pilates Reformer exercise program in a group format once a week over a 10-week period. The primary outcome measures were the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) composite scores on the NeuroCom® system, Timed Up-and-Go (TUG), and Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) scale. The secondary outcome measures were the Adaptation Test (ADT), straight leg raise (SLR), hip extension, and ankle dorsiflexion active range of motion (AROM), Berg Balance Scale (BBS), and 10 Meter Walk Test (10MWT).

Results: There was a significant interaction between group and time on the TUG, BBS, 10MWT, and SLR, hip extension, and ankle dorsiflexion AROM measurements. Over time, subjects in the Pilates intervention group improved their scores significantly on all mentioned measures, whereas subjects in the control group did not (P ≤ 0.05). Significantly improved AROM was found between groups following the Pilates intervention for hip extension, left SLR, and right ankle dorsiflexion.

Conclusion: Pilates Reformer exercises performed once per week for 10 weeks resulted in reduced fall risk and significant improvements in static and dynamic balance, functional mobility, balance self-efficacy, and lower extremity AROM in adults age 65 and older at risk for falling, whereas the control group did not significantly improve in any measures. Pilates Reformer exercises are more effective compared to no exercise intervention at improving hip and ankle AROM.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Movement Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Self Efficacy