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The Benefits of Using a Stability Ball as a Chair
Recently available in a regular 55 or 65cm ball, some are using as chairs
to keep your core engaged throughout the day, keeping your balance
and stability in check.
A very inexpensive way to start your Corporate
Wellness Program. When using a Stability Ball
as a desk chair your core automatically starts
to strengthen your back and core muscles to
give you better posture.
A start for Corporate
During breaks instead of hitting the X-Hour Energy
Drink or Chocolate
Simple stretches will revitalize and pump more blood
which gives your brain more oxygen and more
Start good posture early!!
Replacing classroom chairs with stability balls
helps students focus, study finds
Photo courtesy of The Aroostook Medical Center
Students at the Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville participated in
a pilot project that replaced classroom chairs with stability balls. Pictured are
(in front, from left) Jonah Babin, Chyanne Price, and Andrew Oakes, (in back,
from left) Lauren Paradis, Savanah Hanlin, Caitlin Chasse and Morgan
Public school students in Aroostook County who sat on stability balls instead of
chairs experienced benefits including improved academic performance and
better health, according to results from a recent formal study....
At work, Pam O’Donnell types at her computer, talks on the phone and, every so often, bounces a bit on a big blue ball. O’Donnell has
an office chair, but this doesn’t mean she uses it. She prefers to sit on an exercise ball. Although some posture experts are leery of the
practice, she and others say sitting on the ball lets them work a little workout into their work time, and strengthen their legs, abs and
The inflatable balls, typically the size of a big beach ball but made of tougher plastic, have migrated to offices from health clubs and
physical therapy clinics.
The lack of armrests, back support or other attributes of a chair, except for a spot on which to sit, makes her pay more attention to
posture, said O’Donnell, director of member service for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a Boston-based
“It makes me sit up straight,” which gives a ball some advantage over a chair, she said. “When you are sitting at your desk, especially at a
computer or keyboard, you tend to hunch over.”
“What we are trying to promote is active sitting versus passive sitting,” said physical therapist Cheryl Soleway, of Vernon, British
Columbia, a consultant to Ball Dynamics of Longmont, Colo., which sells the products.
“You get a low level of neuromuscular activity — your abdominal and trunk muscles are contracting to some degree,” Soleway said.
“Without that activity, you would fall off.”
An upside to falling down
To Soleway, there is even an upside to the fear of falling down. The natural urge not to slide off the ball should help to train the balance
system, reducing the risk of falls, she said.
Position counts in ball work. Soleway said the ball should be big enough to allow the legs to slope slightly downward at not quite a
right angle from the thighs.
However, she conceded there are many unknowns in the physiology of ball sitting as an office exercise. “I’m not sure anybody has
spent a lot of dollars researching this.”
Sitting on a ball at work should improve muscle tone, but a risk of injury could await people who do it for a full day, said Dr. Henry
Goitz, chief of sports medicine at the Medical College of Ohio. “Twenty minutes is good, 30 minutes is great, but 8 to 12 hours, some
time in that span, you may have fatigability,” he said.
Exercise balls in offices have raised concern in other parts of the world. “Providing fitness balls in a workplace may place the
employer at risk of introducing a hazard,” according to a statement posted on the Internet by workplace safety officials in the
Australian state of Victoria.
Exercise balls as office furniture
Get ready for hippity-hop races in the workplace
Exercise balls as office furniture
Get ready for hippity-hop races in the workplace
And an expert in office ergonomics — the fitting of office functions to the
strengths and limits of human bodies — has doubts about the wisdom of
substituting a bouncy ball for an ergonomically designed chair.
“I don’t think this would be anything I would use to reduce my exposure to
musculoskeletal disorders,” said Peter Budnick, chief executive officer of Ergoweb,
an ergonomics training and equipment sales company in Midway, Utah. “It’s not
an ergonomic device. It does not offer the full support you would expect from an
ergonomic chair: stable base, adjustable height and back support.”
‘Sounds like fun'
Just the same, “I have to say it sounds like fun,” Budnick said.
If exercise balls encourage fun — or a less stressful workplace — companies
should encourage balls, said Nancy Lynch, an adjunct professor of human
resources management at Canisius College and president of Human Resources
Consulting Associates in Buffalo, N.Y. Companies in which employees look like
they are having fun will find it easier to attract new hires, she said.
Activities that get people moving are also good for “thinking and problem-
solving,” Lynch said.
O’Donnell said fun is only one of the advantages to using a ball.
“Every so often, you do sort of roll back and forth or bounce a little,” she said. “I
have a little radio on, and if there’s a good song that comes on, I might bounce a
As for group activity, O’Donnell noted that some workers in her office use
exercise balls. “We haven’t had any hippity-hop races around the office at this
point, but that might be a good Friday event.”
Not excited about the esthetics of a Stability Ball, or it Rolling away…
There are many different ‘traditional’ holders for stability balls to make your new office
Chair more attractive! Below you will find some different availabilities…
Gaiam Power-Systems AeroMat
Why I Switched My Office Chair with an
Exercise Ball (and What It's Like)
Many of us spend the majority of our professional lives sitting, which
makes the office chair an all-important piece of furniture. Lately mine
hasn't been cutting it, so as an experiment, I swapped my chair with an
exercise ball. Here's what's been great about it, what's been less than
perfect, and what you might want to consider if you're interested in
switching to an exercise ball as your office chair.
Purported Benefits of an Exercise Ball as a Chair
I don't have one of those $500+ Herman Miller ergonomic chairs, but
do have a lumbar support roll for my desk chair, which is sized small
enough for my frame so I fit comfortably in it and everything is
measured for ergonomic workstation perfection (as best as I could
manage, at least). But, maybe it's my increased awareness of the
health hazards of sitting all day or just the years catching up with me,
but this regular chair isn't working so great. Lately I've been catching
myself standing up to type in bouts of nervous energy or, worse,
slouching. My neck and shoulders perpetually ache. Frankly, my butt
My alternatives were to adopt a standing desk or a treadputer or try a more
ergonomically-designed Aeron or similar chair (like a good pair of shoes and a
quality mattress, it's the everyday things that are worth investing in). Being
both a yoga lover and a cheapskate, I decided to first try out this exercise ball
chair for $75.
Besides being much cheaper than buying a new desk or a more expensive
chair, the exercise ball chair promised to allow me to work in some
abdominal exercise throughout the day and possibly improve my years-of-
What It's Like to Sit on an Exercise Ball All Day
The first time you sit on an exercise ball at your desk, your back will probably
shoot up so straight you'll feel like a marionette. If you're like me, this will be
a foreign, even delightful experience (oh, that's what it's like?). Twenty
minutes later, if you're like me, your butt will hurt and you will switch back to
your regular chair which will feel mushy by comparison.
After a couple more days of this, you may find yourself sitting on the exercise
ball chair for much longer periods of time. (A week later, I spend the majority
of my day on the exercise ball chair, but still take lots of breaks and
occasionally switch back to the old chair.)
Some pleasant things:
You can bounce on the chair when a nice song comes on.
You can bounce on the chair in frustration while waiting for a browser page
If you're a kinesthetic/tactile learning type, bouncing on the ball might
stimulate your thinking.
Whenever you need a good stretch, just lean slightly back or to the side as
Exercise on the spot. The Isokinetics manual provided some sample fitness
ball exercises you could do at the desk.
One person found a rather unique advantage of the bouncy ball chair, for
women at least (warning, NSFW), though Tim Ferriss points out a potential
problem for men.
Some less pleasant things:
Although you can buy height adjusters for this particular chair, depending on
your setup, the ball may be too low or too high in relation to your monitor
and keyboard. You may need to adjust your whole workstation.
You can't really just lean back on this chair and relax.
If you bounce too much you may get a headache.
The ball can get sticky in warm weather.
After a little over a week of using the chair, it's impossible to tell if it's helping
to increase my core strength, as I hope it will, but I do feel like I walk and sit
much taller than I used to and can sit for longer periods of time. If it's only
that I'm more aware of my posture, that's fine—in my book, the ball is doing
its job. Plus, I now have another outlet for some creative nervous energy, am
sneaking in some extra (albeit minuscule, in terms of calorie-burning)
exercise, and my butt doesn't hurt anymore—what more could I ask for?
Exert from LifeHacker