Pilates during Cancer Treatment

Pilates is a low-impact physical fitness system that consists of a series of exercises that develop the body’s strength, flexibility, and control. Pilates exercises can be easily modified to suit practitioners’ limitations and abilities. It makes sense, then, that Pilates can be used as an important part of maintaining wellness for those currently undergoing cancer treatments, or those in recovery from cancer.

By isolating different muscle groups, Pilates exercises develop strength in the body’s “core” muscles in the abdomen and back, and increase overall flexibility and coordination. Pilates exercises can be done with no equipment but a mat, moving just the body in a series of movements with focused attention on breathing and muscle control. Pilates exercises also emphasize concentration and breathing, making it very relaxing, with benefits similar to other low-impact exercises like yoga.

The National Cancer Institute explains that exercise in general has been shown to be beneficial to cancer patients undergoing treatment and in recovery. However, many forms of exercise may be too high-impact for those suffering from fatigue and muscle weakness as a side effect. Pilates is a viable option for cancer patients because it is low-impact and features exercises that can be easily modified to suit a patient’s needs and abilities.

Pilates can be a powerful aid to cancer patients during any stage of treatment. Pilates expert Mari Winsor, interviewed for Gaiam.com, explains that patients currently undergoing chemotherapy may experience an energy boost from Pilates. Winsor also explains that Pilates can help patients feel stronger, have better circulation, and at the very least can help relieve the stress of treatment and recovery.

The Stanford Cancer Center offers a Pilates class as part of their Cancer Supportive Care Program because of their understanding that Pilates can be highly beneficial for the healing process. Their class covers modifications to Pilates exercises designed for cancer patients or survivors. Similar classes are available at other cancer treatment centers, gyms, and specialized studios throughout the country.

For patients with mesothelioma or other cancers, Pilates offers the benefits of stress reduction as well as gentle strengthening and flexibility training. Engaging in Pilates following a mesothelioma prognosis or similar cancer diagnosis can help create an increased quality of life and promote faster recovery for current patients and survivors.

By