5 Ways Pilates Helps Depressed Elderly Women


Philenia is the owner of Pathos Pilates. Pilates is a great way to de-stress while strengthening the body. You can get a 2-week FREE trial at Pathos Pilates, with unlimited access to workout videos and exclusive content. Sign up as VIP here!


The concept that exercises such as Pilates and Yoga can be therapeutic for the mind and body is a modern-age idea that is only recently starting to be researched further by doctors, experts and scientists as these industries grow. Already, a rather decent sized study conducted in Korea found that there were many benefits of Pilates on depression and ego in elderly women.

The Pilates approach to exercise has an interesting connection between the mind and the body, due to the uniqueness of its approach, which we will explore further.

In this blog post, we look at the correlation between age and whether Pilates can have an effect on the elderly who face issues surrounding death, health and sudden changes in their lifestyle which may cause issues such as lack of self-confidence, anger, communication and negative responses to challenges.

Statistics about Depression in Elderly Men & Women

According to approximately 74 studies (that analysed 487,275 men and women of ages 61-72 years old) that were carried out between 1955-2005, it has been found that at any one time about 10-20% of elderly experience depression. They found that the highest rate of depression was in India (the biggest population in the world) which averaged between 13-35%, compared to the rest of the world which had an average rate of 5.4%.

This same research stated Australia had the lowest rate of depression, since that finding however it has increased, with approximately 10% of elderly in Australia experiencing depression. Unfortunately, no studies in the African continent have been undertaken, furthermore, a lot more in-depth studies are required in this decade as the social and lifestyle climate of the world has changed vastly since 2005.

Issues Elderly Women Face

The average life expectancy is 68.5 years for men, and 73.5 years for women, thus leaving women without a spouse for an average of 5 years. Exposure to uncertainties such as separation from their spouse through death, death of friends or colleagues and age-related health issues can collective cause elderly women to experience psychological anxiety and depression should they not have the tools to adapt to environmental changes.

Pilates helps Elderly Women gain Confidence, Positive Communication, Optimistic Responses and Anger Management Control

A study was carried out with the intention to understand the impact that Pilates, a low-intensity physical activity, can have on ego resiliency & depression. This research was conducted using elderly women between the ages of 61-72, who had never undertaken a Pilates class.

A study was carried out in Korea with 148 Elderly women. They answered questionnaires before and after the study, were advised not to do any other physical activity over the 16 weeks and had never attended a Pilates class before.

The benefits of Pilates on depression and ego in elderly women was drastically positive. The effects on the emotional competence as well as physical capabilities of the women in the study group found on completion of the study a stated below. The results were determined using a 5-point Likert Scale e.g ‘strongly agree (5 points) to strongly disagree (1 point).’


Self-confidence was the testing component to measure ego and initially had an average of 3.57, which dramatically increased by 16.53% to an average of 4.16 by the end of the study.

Communication Efficiency:

Communication efficiency increased at a steady rate of 5.3%, where the preliminary questionnaire achieved an average of 3.37, the final average was 3.55.

Optimistic Trait:

The optimistic trait also had a steady increase of 4.63% from average 3.45 to 3.61 by the end of the study.

Anger Management:

Anger management had a large increase also, where the average was 3.13 initially it increased by 12.78% to 3.53 by the end of the 16 weeks.


Depression dramatically decreased by 12.59%, from 2.86 down to 2.5.

Benefits of Pilates on Depression and Ego in Elderly Women

Although the above information shows that after only 16 weeks of Pilates, three times a week, clients can feel the psychologically positive and calming effects of Pilates, a further study showed that only 12 weeks was required to reach this state. Imagine what 1 year of Pilates could do…

 In summary, the elderly women who participated in the study responded better to challenges as their self-confidence increased, they were also able to communicate more positively than they did before the program. Furthermore, their capability to respond to a situation in an optimistic light and their ability to control anger improved, whilst depression dramatically decreased by 12.59% (this is a massive find). Thus showing that Pilates can contribute to improving emotional competence as well as physical capabilities.

Why would any of this matter? 

With a healthy ego, body and mind we are able to maintain balanced views of our lives, set clear goals for ourselves, exhibit and maintain inner strength & self-confidence against challenging ordeals. The benefits of Pilates on depression and ego is not just for elderly women, this is an exercise that is able to be practiced amongst all ages and genders, the same benefits are reaped by all who practice Pilates, however, more studies are required to be carried out as this industry continues to grow.

If you like these sorts of blog posts like, share and comment your thoughts and other areas you would be interested to learn more about.


(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221135/

(2) http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/0647

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5091068/

This post was originally published at Pathos Pilates.