Given their lifespan and use exercise balls are a fairly inexpensive investment, can strengthen your core with simple exercises and is beneficial to your general health.
The first thing to do is get a ball that is right for your size. Consider your height when choosing a ball. Using a ball that is the wrong size may cause injury. Make sure there is a pump accompanying your ball or you have access to a decent foot pump so that you can fill it up and/or top it off when it gets low. Most balls should be filled with a two step process – initial filling is to stabilize the ball material – letting the material expand for 24 hours before a final filling to reach the correct size and firmness will increase the lifespan of your ball. Given the build materials most balls may show wrinkles before inflation – wait for the first few days before worrying about this, as it’s just a temporary side-effect of the folding prior to shipping.
Fitness balls are available anywhere exercise equipment is sold, from large retail chains, to fitness stores, gyms, studios, even physiotherapists, and of course, online stores.
Have fun with your exercise ball, and remember it can be used for all sorts of workouts!
Fitness trends come and go, however, every now and then, an exception to the rule comes along that actually makes complete sense. The Focus on core strength and functional training which involves strengthening the torso for better workouts and less injuries is one such “trend”. My favorite tool for core strength is the exercise ball. Physical therapists have used them for years, but now fitness experts know it’s one of the best ways to strengthen the abs and back and increase stability. Here’s what you need to know about choosing and using an exercise ball.
Choosing an Exercise Ball
Before you buy a ball, make sure it’s the right size for your height. To test it, sit on the ball (or sit on a chair/bench/etc nearby) and make sure your hips are level or just slightly higher than the knees:
|Your Height (for combined sitting and exercise)||<150cm||150cm – 165cm||162cm – 183cm||180cm – 200cm||200+cm|
|Your Height (for mainly exercise use)||<160cm||160cm – 175cm||175cm – 195cm||195cm – 205cm||205+cm|
If you’re overweight or obese, you might be wondering if you can use an exercise ball. While many companies sell “burst-resistant” balls, few products tested support these claims. A few, such as the Duraball actually deliver on their claim. They now also sell a Duraball Xtreme, which is an even heavier grade of ball in case you want the strongest of the strong.
This article also covers the topic well.
How To Use Your Exercise Ball
Exercise balls challenge by putting your body in an unstable environment. When you lie on the ball, your legs and abs immediately contract to keep you from falling off. Add an exercise to that (like a chest press or a crunch), and you’ve just increased the intensity of the movement. Bonus: Exercise balls are versatile enough to use for just about anything, including:
- Weight training. Use the stability ball as your new ‘weight bench’ to add difficulty to the movements and incorporate the muscles of your legs, butt and abs.
- Abdominal training. Doing crunches, twists and other traditional exercises on the ball adds difficulty to the movement by recruiting more muscles as in this Core Workout.
- Sitting around. Just sitting on an exercise ball can be a challenge and it’s a great way to improve your posture when sitting in front of a computer or watching television. Practice by sitting on it and raising one foot off the ground and balancing or try some of these beginner ball exercises.
- Flexibility, yoga and pilates exercises. The ball is great for stretching and relaxing, such as in this Relaxing Stretch on the Ball workout or this Yoga on the Ball workout.
- Playing around. It’s a workout tool but, don’t forget, it’s also a ball. Your kids will love playing with it, just keep an eye on them so they don’t hurt themselves.
Exercise Ball Workouts
Your best source of ball workouts are exercise videos. Check out Collage Video’s exercise ball videos or this database of exercise ball videos and books for basic exercises. For a variety of workouts, from strength training to yoga, visit my Exercise Ball Workouts for ideas.