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Can One Lose Weight Just by Doing Pilates or Yoga?

By Tyson Alexander

One of the most important components of a successful workout routine is finding the right exercises to help you burn calories. You need to find the right balance between how much you enjoy an activity and its effectiveness in helping you reach your fitness goals. While you can lose weight doing slower exercises like yoga or Pilates, they may not be as time-effective as more vigorous aerobic exercises.

Losing Weight

Losing weight is a matter of burning off more calories than your consume each day. The amount of calories your body uses depends on your age, sex, body size and activity level. The average adult female burns 1,800 calories without much exercise, and the average adult male burns 2,400. To lose a pound a week, your exercise routine needs to burn at least 500 more calories than you consume each day, as 1 pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories.


Pilates and yoga may not be ideal exercises for losing weight. Their emphasis on slow movements and holding poses means you do not get the vigorous workout you may need to burn many calories. For example, a 155-pound person may burn about 298 calories doing yoga or Pilates for an hour, whereas an hour of running burns four times that amount. The 298 calories you burn doing yoga can help you lose weight, but you need to restrict your diet more than you would if you performed more vigorous exercise.


Pilates and yoga may have indirect benefits that help you lose weight, even if they do not help you burn many calories outright. Yoga improves your mood. This may enable you to shed pounds by helping with stress-related eating compulsions. People who practice yoga regularly tend to resist weight gain better, according to A.R. Kristal and colleagues in a July 2005 article in the journal, "Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine." Kristal and colleagues tracked the weights of 15,550 middle-aged adults for 10 years and found that those who practiced yoga ended up being 3 pounds lighter at the end of the study.


Consider using yoga or Pilates as a warm-up routine to get yourself ready for a more intense aerobic workout. Doing Pilates or yoga before an aerobic workout will stretch your muscles and get you ready for more intense exercise. Or you can save Pilates or yoga for after a workout to help cool down and calm your mind after doing cardio. Yoga or Pilates may also help you get the core stability and balance you need to excel at more vigorous aerobic exercises.

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