Pilates for Mobility and Flexibility

Pilates for Seniors: Mobility

Pilates is an excellent source for improving mobility and range of motion in the joints for everyone but especially for seniors. Those newer to the method or are already active can benefit greatly from the functional conditioning of Pilates.

The ability to move freely and with ease as well as combat poor habitual patterns - such as excessive sitting, standing or repetitive movements, is essential to one’s quality of life. Optimal mobility isn’t just about stretching but rather a balance of strength and flexibility. Strength and stabilization are necessary components for increased mobility, which is necessary for everyday activities such as walking, getting out of bed or getting up and down.

Pilates for Strength

Pilates is an effective mode of exercise that combats the natural decline of muscle mass and strength associated with age. Maintaining or increasing strength as one ages has numerous benefits including increased bone density, increased muscle mass and improved balance. All of these contribute to the quality of life and the ability to continue performing everyday activities that we take for granted.

Building strength through Pilates also results in increased energy and enhanced mood as well as aiding in managing blood pressure and blood sugar. A study has shown that strength building in older adults increases motivation and confidence. The Pilates principle of concentration facilitates a deep connection between the mind and body that aids in mental sharpness.

Pilates is widely known and popularized for building a strong core, and rightfully so, however, when executed correctly it is really a whole-body exercise system. This whole-body system creates strength and connection in the legs, feet, core and glutes (your seat). This is important for standing and walking upright, getting up from sitting unassisted, and it builds confidence and continued independence. A ‘weak core’ can make the body susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and difficulty in balancing. Pilates is one of the best ways to build strength for an enhanced quality of life, independence, confidence, and joy in all activities.

Pilates for Flexibility

A healthy body, regardless of age but especially for the older adult, is one that ideally balances strength, mobility, and flexibility. These 3 components form a strong and stable body. Practicing Pilates and flexibility boosts confidence, vigor and the ability to continue with one’s daily activities and livelihood without the fear of falling or injury.

Strength on its own isn’t sufficient enough for life’s requirements of twists, turns, reaching, bending, carrying or getting up and down. Strength alone can leave you immobile, stiff, and prone to injury, whereas the balance of having flexibility adds ease and suppleness to any movement; qualities desired more and more as we age.

Pilates exercises contain the ideal formula for improving flexibility due to its connection to breath and its precise slow controlled movements. Pilates is not a static workout, but rather it keeps moving- transitioning between exercises to develop the smaller muscle groups as well as longer leaner muscles. In general, it’s a combination of active and passive stretching with an emphasis on the active. Active stretching is known to provide more feedback, and to change the length and strength of a muscle. This concept can be applied and felt throughout the Pilates repertoire resulting in an improvement of flexibility.

Featured Classes for Mobility

Pilates Exercises for Strength

Pilates helps build strength in the body due to targeting the smaller and deeper muscle groups that support joints as well as strengthening the larger muscle groups.

The mind-body connection enables a feeling of’ ‘inner strength’ because movements begin from the breath, and therefore, to develop a strong core. A strong core consists of deep abdominal engagement along with the intrinsic muscles of the back. Core strength stabilizes your back, aids in improved posture and is the foundation for creating more strength around the hips, hamstrings and upper body. Adrianne Crawford’s Strength from the Inside Out Mat class builds on foundational Pilates exercises to develop the strength needed for everyday activities as well as aiding with mobility and balance.


This exercise increases mobility and strength in the hips, knees, and ankles by supporting the body in a deep bend. For more of a challenge try to hold the squat for 3-5 seconds.

Arm Circles with Hand Weights

Strengthen your stability and mobility by working your arms, and shoulders in wide ranges of motion.

Pilates Exercises for Flexibility

Pilates exercises combine static and dynamic stretching that lengthens the muscle fibers along with strengthening them to create a greater range of motion.

Pilates is one of the most efficient ways to increase flexibility due to its combination of deliberate and controlled movements. The flexibility achieved through Pilates empowers older adults by balancing strength, mobility, and stability. Unlike other modalities that hold static stretches, Pilates keeps you moving and transitioning between exercises in a deliberate and controlled manner. Pilates exercises combine static and dynamic stretching that lengthens the muscle fibers along with strengthening them to create a greater range of motion. Greater range of motion along with strength and stability decrease the risk of injury and falling.

Amy Haven’s Active Aging Mat covers a wide range of exercises connecting the whole body. Her focus on functional movement is a great example of a class that combines the healthy balance a body needs for increased or maintained flexibility.

Theraband Shoulder Stretch

This exercise stretches the shoulders, arms, and chest by moving through your full range of motion.

Calf Stretch

Improve your ankle and foot mobility with this calf stretch. Hold the position longer for a deeper stretch.

Ankle Mobility with Theraband

This exercise stretches the ankles and calves, which will improve your ankle and foot mobility. Repeat on each side.

Hip Stretch

Stretch the deep muscles of your hips, which will improve your ability to get up and down from a seated position.

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