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Pilates for Gut Health

How Pilates Can Enhance Digestion and Support Gut Health

Pilates is an incredibly effective form of exercise for core strength, muscle endurance and muscle toning and has garnered global popularity due to its science-backed benefits such as enhanced metabolic health, reduced back pain and increased flexibility; but can mat or reformer-based Pilates also contribute to improved digestion and alleviation of poor gut health symptoms?

Let's delve into it...

Pilates facilitates digestion

All forms of exercise hold potential for aiding digestion by stimulating the smooth muscles in the intestine, which help food move through the digestive system. In particular in Pilates, the twisting exercises, such as the Mermaid, and abdominal work stimulate muscle contractions in your gut, aiding overall digestion and helping to alleviate gut symptoms, such as constipation or diarrhoea.

Pilates helps the stomach muscles relax 

Daily activities often tense muscles, particularly the hip flexors, which then compress the abdominal area and strain on the digestive system. Pilates counteracts this by working the core in multiple directions, stretching the abdominal region and also providing a massaging effect on internal organs, all of which relaxes the area and aids digestion.

Pilates improves posture 

When you slouch or hunch over, as we do so often when using our phones or sat at desks, you compress your stomach and intestines, which can lead to issues such as acid reflux, bloating and constipation. Good posture allows your body and organs to work the best they can. Pilates helps improve your posture by working the muscles that hold your spine in good alignment. It also helps you become more aware of your body and posture throughout the day.

Pilates helps relieve stress (a.k.a your gut’s nemesis)

Stress is a gut-wrecker! You can be eat the healthiest diet ever but if you are chronically stressed you won’t be absorbing and receiving the nutrients in the right way and it won’t be healthy for you. Pilates is a low-impact form of exercise that helps to relax the mind and alleviate stress. The use of the breath in Pilates (one of its core principles) reduces the release of the stress hormone (cortisol), strengthens the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the intestine, and promotes the rest and digest system (parasympathetic nervous system). 

Pilates strengthens muscles and organs

Your muscles are attached to our organs, which means that when you actively contract and lengthen your muscles, you also strengthen your organs. This engagement allows organs to expel waste products and toxins effectively.

Pilates boosts circulation

Your organs and digestive system require good circulation to stay happy and healthy. In Pilates, you move your spine in all planes of movement, which boosts circulation to your digestive system, helping release trapped air and eliminate bloating and constipation. The dynamic movements also promote blood circulation, which reduces inflammation and in turn enhances the functioning of the digestive system.

What are the best Pilates exercises for gut health


Twisting movements in Pilates effectively stimulate digestion, targeting the abdominal area and ribcage where digestion and trapped air can occur.


Rotating exercises work the transverse abdominals and obliques. Executed correctly with proper breathing, they apply pressure to the abdominal area, engaging and massaging the digestive system.


Seated side stretches and lateral flexion enhance mobility and flexibility in the spine, engaging the core for digestion support.

Roll Up:

Targeting abdominal muscles and mobilising the spine, Roll Up supports core strength and control. The controlled rolling motion engages abdominal muscles, contributing to the massage of internal organs.

Roll Over:

Aiding core muscles and flexibility, Roll Over involves sequential rolling motions, potentially improving circulation and benefiting digestive processes.


An intense Pilates exercise focusing on breath control, Hundreds flushes the body with fresh oxygen, promoting circulation.

Rolling Like a Ball:

This exercise, involving rolling to massage the spine and internal organs, is effective. By keeping the knees close to the chest, it helps force stale air out while providing stress relief and boosting endorphins for a happier you and gut.

LIVE BRAVE Pilates classes for digestive and gut health

Integrating Pilates into your daily routine will help you maintain a healthy and balanced gut. While all of our Pilates classes will be beneficial, these two classes have been specifically designed to help stimulate your digestive system and support your gut health.

  1. Move & Mobilise for Gut Health
  2. 25 Min Digestive Boosting Pilates

Remember, just 10 mins of Pilates has the power to completely transform how you are feeling.

What else can you do every day to support your digestive and gut health?

Tiny changes to your day-to-day choices can have a huge impact on our gut health. The amazing thing is that even though they may seem like small differences (and by the way therefore very easy to implement!), if you do them consistently, they can really make a difference and lead to a restored and balanced gut.

To learn about what these changes are, read this.

“The man who uses intelligence with respect to his diet, his sleeping habits and who exercises properly, is beyond any question of doubt taking the very best preventive medicines provided so freely and abundantly by nature.”

Joseph Pilates

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