Expert tips for exercising with a balance ball

September 20, 2015

Using a balance ball can help you build strong muscles and a healthy heart in as little as five minutes a day. But the balls can seem somewhat odd and unstable at first, even for people who exercise regularly. The following expert tips will help you to start with confidence.

Expert tips for exercising with a balance ball

Important safety tip

Balance (or stability) balls are designed to hold your weight without popping, so use only these specially designed exercise balls.

Don't substitute beach balls, department store children's toys or other non-exercise-specific balls for exercises that call for a balance ball.

Balance ball basics

  • Not only can you use a balance ball as a substitute for a weight bench, you can also do dozens of exercises using just it and your body weight to strengthen and tone every major muscle, especially your "core" — the abdomen, back and hips.
  • When you perform strength-training exercises on one of these inflated exercise balls, all your muscles, especially those in your core, kick in to help you to maintain form and balance, so you get more benefit from each move.
  • Balance balls also improve your balance and coordination — something most people need as they get older.

Buy the right size

  • Using a ball that's too big or too small will make the proper moves more difficult, or even dangerous if the ball is much too large.
  • As a rule of thumb, when you sit on the top of the ball, your legs should be bent at 90 degrees at the knees when your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Most balls include size charts on their packages.
  • Ask a salesperson or a personal trainer if you are not sure which size to choose.

Have a seat

  • Simply sit on the ball to practice getting comfortable on it.
  • Place it near a wall, put your hand on the wall for support, and have a seat.
  • For better balance, place your feet wide apart for a more stable foundation.
  • As you find your centre of gravity and feel more stable, take your hand off the wall and practice sitting while raising your arms to the sides, then overhead.

Cheat a little

  • If balance is a problem when you start out, simply prop the ball against a wall and sit on it with your back to the wall.
  • This way, the ball will be less able to roll around beneath you while you build your balance and confidence.

Keep it properly inflated

  • A balance ball is hard to use if it's too soft.
  • It should be firm enough not to be easily squeezed between your hands, but soft enough to give a little when you sit on it.

Keep these expert tips in mind to help you to get started and gain confidence with balance ball exercises.

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