Several studies have confirmed the demerits of sitting for too long. Different types of negative effects such as the increased risk of diabetes, metabolism slowing down, etc. are bound to happen. However, some people get up frequently and move around to reduce the ill effects of too much sitting, and they use exercise balls. Also, known as a stability ball, balance ball, or yoga ball, people tend to replace their normal chair with an exercise ball to achieve what is referred to as "active sitting."
Apart from poor posture or slumping that results even when you sit on ergonomic chairs, the concept behind using exercise balls is a unique one. The ball compels your body to make regular adjustments to your lower body and core. As such, it might result in having a better posture alongside abdominal strength.
Researchers believe that it is unhealthy for someone to sit for prolonged hours. But in terms of effectiveness between chairs and exercise balls, there are mixed results.
Benefits of an exercise ball
The perceived benefits of making use of exercise balls are many. These include better balance, increased energy, and improved posture. Because the ball compels you to shift positions frequently, your body loses energy. As such, it helps your body to burn calories as well.
In 2017, researchers monitored how human bodies react after sitting for ten minutes. They concluded that using stability balls help activate the muscles in the lower body. Another study revealed that it elevates core endurance.
Other supporters of the theory believed that using the ball encourages exercise. After you become accustomed to the ball, it becomes easier for you to move a bit away from the work desk and perform certain moves on strengthening the core.
Drawbacks of exercise balls
Some studies found very little to no connection between using exercise balls and the much-hyped benefits. Besides, some studies show potential chances of injuries.
- Core strength doesn't increase - When it comes to core activation, there are mixed results. While one study found out that sitting on exercise balls helps engage core muscles, other studies conclude that there is no difference in core strengthening when someone sits on regular chairs or exercise balls.
- Calorie-burning ability - Even if there is some amount of energy lost when sitting on exercise balls, it doesn't reduce the health risks associated with sitting for long. This is according to a study that came on 2015.
- Elevated pain - Although sitting for long hours results in back pain, using exercise balls might have the same effect. According to one study, it was found that around 50% of people reported some kind of pain even after using exercise balls.
- Risk of injuries - Because exercise balls are unstable, there are possibilities of injuries. You may fall if you lose balance while sitting on the ball. In addition, you may injure yourself badly if it breaks suddenly.
However, if you ever experienced pain when using a stability ball as your chair, consult your physician and stop using it.
Consider the following factors if you are planning to use a stability ball while working. That way, you can get the best out of the new chair while being safe.
1. Consider its size
The ball's inflation level, angle, and height can make a lot of difference. Besides, make sure that your thighs are comfortably set instead of 90 degrees. Also, ensure that the ball isn't tall so that you don't have to balance your wrists while working on the desk.
2. Make the space safe
If you can make changes to your desk, you can keep the ball in the right place. Placing the ball in front of a wall benefits you if you roll. You can use exercise mats so that the ball provides support and cushion.
Another option that you can use is a frame or base that can hold the ball intact in one place. You may opt for lumbar support that might benefit your lower back while promoting a healthy posture.
3. Add time eventually
When you are a beginner using the ball as your desk chair, start with half an hour or even less. Increase your time every day and see how things go.
Alternatives to ball chairs
It is wise to alternate your sitting arrangement between ball chairs, desk chairs, ergonomic desk chairs, or other forms. Apart from ball chairs that come with lumbar support, wheels, and frames, you can try other alternatives as follows.
Research shows that when you use these options, they help you lose energy without interrupting your tasks. In addition, they could be comfortable rather than sitting on a normal chair.
Despite that, stretch breaks, walking, and regular standing are better alternatives. Sitting for a prolonged period harms your body compared to overall sitting time.
What is the best way to clean your exercise ball?
Using water and soap on the ball keeps it clean and bacteria-free. However, never use harsh chemicals because they might damage the ball. The instructions that come from the manufacturer can provide proper guidance about different cleaning methods.
Are exercise balls good for pregnant women?
If you want to use exercise balls while pregnant, check with your physician to ensure that it is safe. Several studies show that using exercise balls while pregnant can reduce lower back pain and other improvements. However, the studies involve low usage of stability bags in a limited timeframe.
How long is it safe to sit on a stability ball?
Whether you are using an ordinary chair or exercise ball, try to get up from your seat every sixty minutes or so for good health. Set an alarm on your smartphone or download an app that reminds you to get up.
Although exercise balls have gained popularity, several studies are yet to prove the benefits of using the same. Besides, you can consider alternatives and try them. In addition, if you are suffering from musculoskeletal disorders or back pain, it is wise to consult with a physical therapist or physician. They would help you determine the most comfortable and safest work desk chair for you.