Background: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a psychiatric illness that without early effective
treatment becomes chronic with high physical, psychological and social morbidity and
high mortality. Pilates exercises can improve quality of life and increase body awareness
in different clinical and healthy populations. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the
acceptability of a Pilates program in a sample of female children and adolescents with AN
by evaluating the psychopathological status, alterations in the perception of body image
and health-related quality of life after 10 weeks.
Methods: A total of 12 female patients (age: 14.6 ± 1.7 years) completed the 10-week
Pilates program. Psychopathology (EDI-3), body image disturbance (CDRS) and quality
of life (KIDSCREEN-27) were evaluated before and after the intervention. A satisfaction
questionnaire was also provided.
Results: Regarding psychopathology, although there were standardized reductions
in seven parameters of those that form EDI-3, none of them reached significance. In
relation to body image, significant, moderately standardized and substantial decreases
were observed in the body dissatisfaction (p = 0.046, Cohen’s d = −0.69). There
were significant, large standardized and substantial increases in physical well-being
(p = 0.008, Cohen’s d = 1.37) and significant, moderately standardized and substantial
decreases in autonomy and parent relation (p = 0.021, Cohen’s d = −0.60). Satisfaction
data was positive.
Conclusion: A Pilates program could help to improve perceived health outcomes by
decreasing body dissatisfaction and increasing physical well-being in female children and
adolescents with AN, so Pilates seems to be a beneficial complementary treatment in children and adolescents with AN. These findings from our pilot study are encouraging
for future research with a substantially larger sample size, representing the first phase of
a longer process.