Pilates: Can it really help our immune system?
● The lymphatic system, which allows the body to dispose of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials, relies on movements and muscle contractions to circulate. Full body movements, such as pilates exercises, are important to continue to allow the lymphatic system to flow efficiently.
● Lymph and waste products are collected in nodes all over the body, but in some areas, such as the feet, groin, armpits and neck, it becomes harder for the system to drain effectively. Pilates
is productive in assisting the flow, acting as a ‘pumping station’. Elevated footwork, short spine exercises, and rolling your spine are just a few effective movements that help to assist the lymph to flow.
● Rhythmic pilates movements stimulate lymph flow as well as blood flow. Blood flow is vital in ensuring the body’s cells are receiving enough oxygen to function effectively and fight infection.
● In a world where shallow breathing is normal, pilates teaches us the importance of deep inhalation. Deep breath “supplies the blood stream with vitally necessary life giving oxygen…and stimulates all muscles into greater activity” (Pilates & Miller, 1945). (1)
● Pilates can also be used as an important tool in coping psychologically. The emphasis on breathing and mindful movement calms the mind and reduces stress. There is strong evidence to suggest that stress impairs immunity. (2)
● Sleep quality is notably improved following a pilates session. Adequate sleep allows the body’s cells to regenerate and have more strength to fight off infection.
● Evidence suggests that 2 pilates sessions per week, paired with a healthy diet and sleep routine, you are able to help your body to remain fighting fit! (3)
1 Pilates, J. H. & Miller, W.J. (1945). Return to life through contrology, Bodymind Publishing Inc.
2 McLeod, S. (1970). Stress illness and the immune system. Retrieved from
3 The Mayo Clinic. (2019). Pilates for beginners: explore the core. Retrieved from