Exercise Balls: General Info

What is an exercise ball?

An exercise ball is an inflatable ball used in both rehabilitation and fitness to strengthen muscles, improve posture, and help in the prevention of back pain. Exercise balls come in different sizes that are color coded according to diameter, in order to correspond correctly with the height of an individual. A good fit for someone who is between 4’11” and 5’4” would be a 55 cm ball, where 65 cms would be appropriate for anyone between 5’5” and 5’11”; anyone taller than 5’11” should use a 75 cm ball.

How do you use an exercise ball?

The exercise ball focuses on core strength by increasing stability and strengthening abs. Many use the exercise ball instead of a weight bench or even an office chair. When sitting or lying on the ball, legs, buttocks, and abdominal muscles will contract in order to stabilize, making even small movements important. Crunches, abdominal twists, free-weight lifting, and other exercises performed while lying on the ball will increase the intensity of any workout by adding more muscle groups to each move. Even simply sitting on the ball while watching television will engage abs, legs, and buttocks as well as improve posture and prevent back pain. The exercise ball can also be used to add incline to lifts and extensions. A common exercise for isolating buttocks muscles is to lie on the floor with heels on the ball and simply lift the pelvis toward the ceiling. Arms and abs can be given focused attention by kneeling, propping arms on the ball, and slowly rolling back and forth while keeping abs tucked in toward the spine.

There are entire work out videos, as well as books and Web sites, dedicated to the exercise ball. The balls themselves may be purchased at a sporting goods store, fitness center, department store, or online. They will generally be purchased in a deflated state, but should include proper direction or equipment for inflation.

For more information on the abdominal exercises with an exercise ball see The Secret to 6-pack Abs.

For more information on hip & thigh exercises with an exercise ball see Best Hip and Thigh Exercises