Five Pilates Exercises for Balance

pilates leg circles

Balance exercises and exercises for balance are key parts of a fitness regimen. What’s the difference? Well, we haven’t found a distinction in the research literature. However, we use balance exercises in therapy to treat vestibular disorders or balance issues from other causes. These involve the use of unstable surfaces and other modalities. On the other hand, exercises for balance are exercises in the normal sense that have benefits for balance.

The Pilates exercises below are exercises for balance because they target soft tissue of the lower extremities that help us stay upright. Over time, strengthening these muscles protects against weakness and reverses muscles loss. They also benefit those with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

These Pilates exercises for balance focus on the Powerhouse (deep core, hip flexors and extensors, including the glutes).

Hip Twist

10 reps, 3 sets

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Exhaling, rotate hip and slowly open one leg outwards, moving knee towards the floor. Inhaling, bring knee back to the other to complete the exercise. Note: keep pelvis stable throughout the exercise.

Single Leg Lift

3 sets 10 reps

Lie on your back with arms at side, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Exhaling, lift leg off mat. Bring it into table top position, toes pointed. Inhaling, lower toes towards floor. Tap the floor with your toes. Repeat steps above.
Note: Keep knee bent to 90 degrees throughout exercise.


3 sets 10 reps

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Exhaling, lift arms, head and chest off mat, bringing arms to your sides. Inhale and perform 5 pulses with your arms. Then, exhale and complete 5 more pulses. Lower chest and head to the mat to complete the exercise.
Note: Keep pulses small and controlled throughout the exercise.


3 sets 10 reps

Lie on back with your arms overhead, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Exhaling, slowly roll up into the sitting position. Inhale and pause briefly. Exhaling, roll back down to lie on back.
Note: Focus on creating a ‘C’ shape with your back throughout the exercise.

pilates leg circles

Single Leg Circle

3 sets 10 reps

Lie on back, legs out straight, arms flat at 90 degrees. Extend leg straight towards the ceiling, foot flexed (not pointed). Inhaling, bring leg across your body. Then, circle it down and around, and then back to straight up. Exhaling, repeat circle in opposite direction for one rep.
Note: Keep your body still on the mat throughout the exercise.

Read more: Balance Tests Let Seniors Know if They are At Risk for Falls