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What are the benefits of an exercise ball?

An exercise ball is very beneficial.  Specifically the exercise ball intoduces an unstable surface that will help to increase core strength, balance and stabilization. 
If a floor exercise has become easy and you need more challenge, that same exercise can be performed on the exercise ball.  By introducing a less stable surface the intensity of the workout has been increased.  When using weights and the exercise ball, always start out with less weight than you would normally lift as your body (especially your core) will be more challenged.  In addition to performing your workouts on the ball you can also use one to facilitate your stretching.  I sit on one at my office for better posture and the bouncing gets a few extra calories out during the day.

The benefits of using an exercise ball are... it integrates the three basic elements of fitness...strength, balance and flexibility.  It’s simple (with a couple of ball basics, listed below), versatile, and is suitable for all fitness levels.


Ball Basics:

1. When sitting on a ball have your hips centered, contract your abs and lift your chest to stay in neutral spine. 2. If you place your feet at a wider stance you will have more stability than if your feet are close together. 3. Keep your feet under your knees for best stability.

 

It’s versatile because you can use it for numerous strength and flexibility exercises...the list is endless. Once you learn the proper form and technique, you can be creative and combine exercises into mini circuits.

 

It’s appropriate for all fitness levels because it allows you to modify difficult exercises like the push-up or squat to achieve correct form without straining.

 

 

Exercise balls (stability balls) are one of the top fitness tools you can use when you exercise. They are also relatively inexpensive, so they make a great option for those who want to exercise on a budget as well. Exercise balls will challenge your stabilizer muscles and help improve your balance. They are excellent for training your core and make a perfect tool to help you get that toned stomach area. You can sit on them, do abdominal crunches on the ball, or even do advanced moves like push ups with the ball. There are so many options, which make it possible to get a full body workout using this one piece of equipment.

An exercise ball is great to add to your exercise routine. It provides a safe way move from a  stable surface to one that isn't forcing your muscles to work harder with different exercises performed on it. For example, let's look at the pushup. Doing it on the ground is challenging in itself, but if you put the ball under your thighs, or stabilize on it with your hands, and then perform the same pushup, it becomes a little more challenging.

Exercise balls, also known as stability balls or Swiss balls, are primarily used to increase the demand for stability in an exercise. The spherical shape of the ball creates an unstable base of support, forcing you to constantly adjust your body position to the subtle movements of the ball requiring you to activate your core musculature (abdominals, torso, hips) to a greater degree. This can potentially improve your balance, abdominal strength, coordination, and burn more calories during your workout. However, stability balls can be dangerous if you do not possess adequate balance or body control, so it is important to evaluate the risk versus reward of the exercise and follow all safety guidelines. Novice exercisers with poor balance should first attain proficiency at performing exercises on a stable surface and progress to a more unstable environment such as a stability ball.

Wendy Batts
Fitness
An exercise/stability ball has many benefits.  One of the main benefits is the increased demand you are placing on your body by dealing with the slightly unstable surface. The body’s little stabilizing muscles work harder to keep you upright on the ball so you can train these muscles and burn more calories while performing specific exercises emphasizing bigger muscle groups.
Also, the ball can serve as a guide to body positioning such as when it is used during a ball squat (where the ball is in-between your back and a wall) or an abdominal crunch on the ball.
Finally, a ball is very convenient. It is a lot easier to carry around a ball than a bench and can be used just about anywhere. If you throw in some dumbbells, you have a complete gym wherever you are.
Exercise or Swiss ball is very versatile when it comes to exercises. It is great way to help you improve your balance and can be used for stabilization type exercises. One of the great benefits of an exercise ball is, if your short on time and have no time to get to the gym, there are plenty of exercises you can do to hit most body parts.
  1. Push Ups (with your hands on the ball or to add more intensity, try putting your toes on the ball and hands on the floor. Having your body in this position will allow most of your body weight to be on your upper body for a better pump)
  2. Ball wall squats (with the ball on your back between you and the wall, squat down to 90 degrees or comfortable position and repeat)
  3. Ball Crunches
  4. Ball Leg Curls
  5. Jack Knife Crunches
  6. Planks
  7. Bridges. etc

Not only are exercise balls great for challenging stability; you can make your exercises more challenging or less in the case of a squat.

To perform a squat using a stability (exercise) ball, place the ball between you and a wall with the ball at your low to mid back with your feet several inches in front of you. Now lower your body down towards the floor as if sitting on a chair. Now return to standing. This is one repetition. Repeat up to 10 times. This will have you performing a squat safely.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Once you establish a fitness foundation, the large, inflatable balls known as exercise balls are wonderful to use for crunches and any other exercise in which you'd sit on the bench or floor. They help you develop balance and work your stabilizing muscles in your abdominal section. They are also great stretching devices
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Exercise balls work stabilizing and core muscles in unique ways, and force your whole body to be involved as you try to remain on the surface of the ball. The challenging and versatile nature of ball exercises makes the workout more interesting, particularly if you get bored easily from free-weight and machine movements. You can also use a wider range of motion when doing weight exercises on the ball. For those who like to stretch their backs, balls offer the type of rounded, smooth surface that allows for gradual and safe stretching.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.