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Are Aerobics or Pilates Better for Losing Weight?

author image Lori Newell
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.
Are Aerobics or Pilates Better for Losing Weight?
Pilates does not burn as many calories as aerobics. Photo Credit: Tomasz Trojanowski/Hemera/Getty Images

When it comes to choosing a weight-loss exercise program, you need to find one that is not only effective but one that you will do consistently and long term. Both aerobics and Pilates can help, but relying on Pilates alone might slow your progress.

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Working out for Weight Loss

It takes a high amount of moderate-intensity exercise to shed unwanted pounds. In general, it takes about 60 minutes of activity a day to maintain your current weight and even more to lose weight, especially if you are not being careful about what you eat, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Everyone's body responds differently to exercise, but a guideline is to get the equivalent of 60 to 75 minutes of brisk walking each day, or 35 to 40 minutes of daily jogging. The goal is to burn off more calories then you consume. One pound of weight is equal to 3,500 calories, so to lose 1 lb. per week, you need to exercise hard enough to burn off 500 calories a day, or exercise to burn off 250 calories and cut 250 calories out of your daily diet.


Reaching your goal weight and avoiding regaining weight requires adopting healthful, lifelong changes. Those who are most successful at losing weight and keeping it off combine watching calorie intake with regular aerobic activity such as walking, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Aerobic exercises tend to burn the most amount of calories and the more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn. For example a 160-pound person can burn about 270 calories walking at 3 1/2 mph for 60 minutes, 500 calories an hour when participating in a high-impact aerobics class and 890 calories when running for an hour at 8 mph.

Pilates for Weight Loss

Because Pilates is not as vigorous as running or a high-impact aerobics routine, it will not burn as many calories per hour. You can still use Pilates to lose weight, you just need to do it longer or accept that your weight loss will be slower than if you used aerobics. If your Pilates class causes you to burn 200 calories per hour, you would need to do Pilates about 2 1/2 hours per day to burn off the same number of calories as an hour-long aerobics class. However, if you dislike aerobics, but really enjoy Pilates, in the end Pilates might be best because you will do it consistently.

Benefits of Pilates

While Pilates might not be the fastest way to lose weight it does have other benefits. Pilates focuses on strengthening and toning your core muscles, which can improve your posture and tone the stomach muscles, both of which will give you a leaner look while working to shed extra pounds. However, when it comes to weight loss, you will achieve better results if Pilates is combined with regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise.

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