The benefits of Pilates

03 August 2022

Exercising plays a key role in promoting good health physically, mentally and socially, particularly for veterans, and one method of movement that can be beneficial is Pilates.

The good news is that Pilates is suitable for everyone, including veterans who are looking to add movement to their recovery journey. 

A balance between stretching and strengthening exercises, Pilates is a method of exercise and movement which is slow, gentle on the joints, and is low impact. 

The health benefits of Pilates 

Pilates exercises are designed and prescribed for the development of muscular strength and endurance, improved flexibility, proprioception (your body's ability to sense movement, action, and location), muscle balance and symmetry, balance, motor control, and improved posture and body awareness.  

There is growing research of the use of Pilates as a form of rehabilitation for both post-acute and chronic injury. 

Clinical Pilates for veterans aims to reduce pain and stiffness, increase mobility, and prevent further injury. With common injuries from Defence including the legs, hips and back, clinical Pilates is perfect for rehabilitation as it targets these areas. 

It also aims to increase and maintain functional capacity which means being able to complete activities within your daily life, like gardening, cooking, walking the dogs, etc. 

Reformer vs. Matwork Pilates 

Pilates routines can be performed on specially designed apparatuses, including a bed-like structure called a reformer (Reformer Pilates), or on a mat or blanket (Matwork Pilates). 

The Pilates reformer machine looks like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys with the use of weights, balls and poles too, whereas Matwork Pilates includes the mat, blocks and weights.  

Reformer Pilates is similar yet very different to Matwork Pilates. Reformer Pilates utilises the Pilates reformer machine and is generally of a higher intensity and more dynamic than Matwork Pilates as it adds resistance to the Pilates exercises via the use of the machine’s springs. 

Reformer Pilates works more areas than Matwork. Matwork Pilates is mostly core, hip and lower back movements, while Reformer Pilates works the entire body and more of the smaller, stabilising muscles of the arms and legs.  

The repertoire of exercises available with Reformer Pilates provides more variety which is ideal for building strength endurance and toning muscles. 

Getting started 

Here are three helpful tips before your first Pilates class: 

  1. Have fun. Pilates shouldn’t be viewed as a chore, it’s a different and exciting way to exercise, plus you get to lie down for a lot of it. 
  2. It is harder than you think, so don’t go full steam ahead. Take it slow and gentle and get to know your body through the different movements so you can judge future intensity. 
  3. Speak up. If you need something modified or something totally different due to injury and/or condition, please speak up the instructor will be more than happy to help. 

If you would like further guidance on including Pilates and other exercises in your lifestyle or recovery journey, the Mates4Mates exercise physiologists are here to provide advice and tailor an individual plan to achieve your goals without risk of injury, fatigue, or burn-out. 

For Mates and family members, Matwork Pilates are available at the Townsville Family Recovery Centre and Reformer Pilates available at the Brisbane Family Recovery Centre. 

If you’d like to speak to an Mates4Mates exercise physiologist, contact us on 1300 4 MATES to book an appointment. 

Written by Aric Visentin, Mates4Mates Exercise Physiologist 

Latest news


Taking the first step when experiencing suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts can be difficult to talk about, but it is important to acknowledge these thoughts if they occur and seek support as soon as possible.


Supporting our Mates in the 2023 Invictus Games

Mates4Mates are cheering on Team Australia at the 2023 Invictus Games including our inspiring Mates chosen to compete.


Supporting women's health through exercise

Women’s Health Week, held in September, highlights the important role exercise plays in reducing and managing health-related issues.