Learn more about Pilates during cancer treatment

Most people have heard of Pilates, a low-impact exercise routine that can build muscle strength. But did you know that Pilates is beneficial for people with cancer?

In general, exercise is highly recommended for current cancer patients as well as cancer survivors, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Light exercise, like Pilates, can improve physical function, reduce fatigue, and potentially increase the quality of life for people with cancer.

Learn more about integrative oncology at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

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What Is Pilates?

Created by Joseph Pilates, this exercise method focuses on core strength, proper postural alignment, and muscle balance.

It’s also important that you concentrate on your breathing while doing Pilates, explains an article published in Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal. To practice Pilates, you typically lie or sit on a mat and use gravity to help stabilize your core.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an advanced fitness guru to do Pilates. The exercises can be modified for strength and fitness levels.

How Is Pilates Helpful for Cancer Patients?

For those with cancer, working out with Pilates can be beneficial in many ways. For starters, exercise during cancer treatment helps improve balance, keeps muscles strong, eases nausea, and decreases fatigue, according to the American Cancer Society.

Pilates specifically has been shown to enhance life for people with cancer. For example, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Breast Health concluded that people with breast cancer who practiced Pilates experienced greater improvements in quality of life had better upper extremity functions, and experienced milder lymphedema (swelling in the limbs) than those in the control group. The study also found that Pilates exercises were found to be more effective than standard exercises for relieving the symptoms of lymphedema.

In addition, Pilates goes hand in hand with integrative oncology which combines modern medicine with other evidence-based complementary therapies, such as nutrition and exercise. Pilates and integrative oncology is a great fit if you’re looking alternate ways to cope with stress, reduce inflammation, and boost your immunity during cancer treatment.

Whether you’re going through cancer or have just completed treatment, Pilates can work wonders for your mind and body. Ask your doctor how you can incorporate a Pilates workout into your daily routine. To find a doctor or learn more about cancer treatment, visit UPMC and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.


About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.