Pilates Vs. Aerobics

Men and women in aerobics class

Regular exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, which can help improve your quality of life. Exercise helps you maintain bone density, flexibility and strength, and lowers your risk of excess weight gain as you age. Pilates and aerobic exercises are both popular fitness programs, but they have fundamental differences in their philosophy and benefits. It is important to look at the end results and differences in these fitness programs before choosing one that is right for you.


Pilates is a method of exercise and movement that was developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates to help injured athletes and dancers return to fitness. Most exercises require only a floor mat. A routine consists of 25 to 50 repetitive low-impact exercises inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet. Pilates develops core muscles and emphasizes use of the abdominals, lower back, hips and thighs through holding poses while performing repetitions of an exercise.


Aerobics classes are usually performed to music and combine rhythmic aerobic exercises with stretching and strength-training elements. Sets of dance steps and other moves are designed to keep the body moving constantly and to increase the heart rate. Major muscle groups are used, and the session normally includes a warm-up. As breathing and heart rate increase, aerobic exercises improve cardiovascular performance as well as improving overall fitness and reducing body fat.

Physical Benefits

Both Pilates and aerobics have health benefits. Some of the benefits of Pilates include improved core stability, increased flexibility, better posture and balance, increased strength and reduction of back pain. Aerobics strengthens the heart and lungs by increasing their ability to utilize and transport oxygen more efficiently. Other benefits include a reduction in body fat, increased muscle mass, increased energy and endurance, and the release of endorphins which promote a sense of well-being with reduced anxiety, improved mood and less stress.

Similarities and Differences

Both Pilates and aerobics will improve your fitness and flexibility, and will burn some calories, but they do it in different ways. Aerobics burns many more calories in a 40-minute session than Pilates will. A Pilates class consists of mainly mat-based exercises that take you through a slow, sustained series of movements using abdominal control and proper breathing techniques. The quality of the posture is more important than the number of repetitions or your speed. Aerobics classes are high energy with fast-paced, high-impact movements that will leave you sweaty and out of breath.