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A Stability Ball Is a Fitting Sitting Adjustment to Improve Your Health

By Sara Butler

Stability Ball

You know the truth: Sitting all day is not good for you. But you also know that your job requires hours each day seated to complete your tasks. How can this problem be solved? It may be time to play ball.

Using a stability ball in conjunction with an ergonomic office chair and standing desk may indeed be the answer to your sitting problem. In fact, using a stability ball for a few hours each day has some benefits to your posture as well as your overall health. Interested? Here are just a few advantages of adding a stability ball to your office chair rotation.

How Bad Is Sitting, Really?

Your body was made to move. But as humans have advanced from hunters and mammoth slayers to a more sedentary existence with nary a woolly mammoth in sight, your body’s desire to move hasn’t changed. If you don’t get a lot of movement in your day and spend a lot of time sitting, then it can impact your health in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Hurting heart health - Studies have found that those who sit for several hours over the course of the day are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who move more.
  • Impacting lifespan - Studies have also found that your lifespan is shorter if you spend large parts of your day sitting.
  • Developing chronic disease - Aside from heart disease, those who sit for most of the day also have a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure. It can even impact your brain, increasing your risk of developing issues such as dementia as you grow older.
  • Heightening risk of back pain - When you spend hours in a seated position, you place a lot of stress and strain on your spine as well as the muscles that support it. Plus, sitting for long periods contributes to poor posture, placing additional stress on your spine and leading to back and neck pain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of people sit at least eight hours every day. Are you one of that 25 percent? If so, a stability ball may be exactly what you need.

The Benefits of Stability Balls

Stability balls are common at the gym but less common at the office, something you should work to change. There are many benefits to using a stability ball for a few hours each day along with a good ergonomic office chair and a standing desk.

Studies have found that using stability balls as chairs at least part of the day helps to improve posture and balance, as well as give you more energy. It can help with back pain and discomfort, too. Sitting on a stability ball requires you to change your position frequently, activating muscles in the lower body and core. Being upright and balanced on a stability ball takes active effort even when you're not actively thinking about it as you type away at your keyboard. This is known as "active sitting."

Sure, it’s not hunting woolly mammoths, but it’s still small movements that can add up to big gains.

A Word to the Wise

If you want to start using a stability ball in conjunction with your office chair and standing desk, there are a few things to be aware of to get the most out of it. You should:

  • Think about size - How your ball is inflated, the angle it sits at, and its height all make a difference. Ideally, your thighs should slope down a bit instead of being at a 90-degree angle. It also shouldn’t be so tall that you need to balance your wrists on your computer’s keyboard. Stability balls come in different sizes, so make sure to choose the right size for your height.
  • Keep your space safe - Especially when you first begin incorporating a stability ball into your office routine, you should create a space that will help keep you safe. If you can, place the ball in front of a wall to help catch you in case you roll backward. Also, placing an exercise mat under the ball will help cushion it and keep it from rolling all over the place. You may also want to invest in a frame or base for the ball to help keep it in place and add a little more lumbar support.
  • Start slow - You don’t want to start out of the gate using your stability ball for half of your day. You need to gradually work your way into using it for longer periods. It’s recommended that you start with 30 minutes or less each day and then slowly increase your time.

A stability ball can be a great tool in your fight against too much sitting while still performing your job. To stay healthy and free from discomfort, don't forget to take regular breaks, at least once per hour, to stretch and walk around. That strategy, along with stability balls, ergonomic chairs, and standing desks may be the answer to your sedentary prayers.

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