Can exercise balls help your work out?

By now you must have seen people working out with a huge plastic ball, lying across it while they do…

Can exercise balls help your work out?
Foto: FreeRangeStock

By now you must have seen people working out with a huge plastic ball, lying across it while they do their work out, but does it really work? We review the reasons why people use an exercise ball when they work out, and find out if it really does make a difference.

There are a lot of exercises that can be done with an exercise ball, and the benefit applies to whatever exercise you do: when you work off a stable source, you’re only working your abdominal section. When exercise balls are used instead of a solid floor, your body is trying to maintain its balance on an unstable surface. This forces your core (or midsection) muscles to be engaged as well, and now your work out has gotten a boost in efficiency as well as production.

In addition to working your legs, arms, chest, back and your abdominals, using exercise balls when you work out also helps with posture, balance, and of course, core strength. You can even do a kind of sitting jumping jack and get a good cardio workout without having to put so much strain on your knees and other joints.

This ability for a low impact work out is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of exercise balls. This means they can be used by a lot of people who otherwise might not be able to engage in core training due to physical restrictions. Pregnant women, seniors, and children can enjoy the benefits of a vigorous workout, without being more susceptible to injury than they would if they were doing conventional push-ups or stretches.

When buying a ball, you want to make sure that it’s the right firmness; the harder the exercise balls, the harder the workout. For the most part, you want to make sure that when you sit on it, the ball dips slightly while remaining firm on the sides. Also, make sure you get the right size, since your height determines what size ball you should be using. As a rule, there are five general sizes that are used. To know which one is right for you, be sure to either read the package, or check with a professional at the gym you attend. Also, confirm the weight limit, most have a 300 pound capacity, but’s it’s always a good idea to double-check.

For something that’s inexpensive, safe, and powerful enough to improve muscle strength and endurance, exercise balls should be a part of your workout. Your body parts were made to work together, and exercise balls are a great way to engage muscles, motor reflexes, and your spine in a way you couldn’t achieve otherwise. You’ll find yourself reaching your fitness goals much faster once you get on the ball!