This randomized controlled study aims to determine the effect of pilates mat exercises on dynamic and static balance, hamstring flexibility, abdominal muscle activity and endurance in healthy adults.

Methods: Female healthy volunteer university students randomly assigned into two groups. Group 1 followed a pilates program for an hour two times a week. Group 2 continued daily activities as control group. Dynamic and static balance were evaluated by Sport Kinesthetic Ability Trainer (KAT) 4000 device. Hamstring flexibility and abdominal endurance were determined by sit-and-reach test, curl-up test respectively. Pressure biofeedback unit (PBU) was used to measure transversus abdominis and lumbar muscle activity. The physical activity of the participants was followed by International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form.

Results: Twenty-three subjects in pilates group and 24 control subjects completed the study. In pilates group, statistical significant improvements were observed in curl-up, sit-and-reach test, PBU scores at sixth week (P<0.001), and KAT static and dynamic balance scores (P<0.001), waist circumference (P=0.007) at eighth week. In the comparison between two groups, there were significant improvements in pilates group for sit-and-reach test (P=0.01) and PBU scores (P<0.001) at sixth week, additionally curl-up and static KAT scores progressed in eighth week (P<0.001). No correlation was found between flexibility, endurance, trunk muscle activity and balance parameters.

Conclusions: An eight-week pilates training program has been found to have beneficial effect on static balance, flexibility, abdominal muscle endurance, abdominal and lumbar muscle activity. These parameters have no effect on balance.