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Should You Replace Your Office Chair with an Exercise Ball?

By Sara Butler

Have you noticed people in your workplace sitting on exercise balls instead of traditional office chairs? This is a fad that has swept through workplace culture over the last decade or so, but is it really better for your back than a chair? Is it something your highly trained chiropractor would suggest? Here’s the real deal with replacing your work chair with an exercise ball!

Why Use an Exercise Ball?

The concept seems legitimate because the reason so many people have embraced trading out their office chairs with exercise balls is because sitting all day is hard on your entire body and can have a pretty significant impact on your overall health, too. Exercise balls are thought to improve your posture through forcing you to engage your abdominal muscles as you sit and helping you to stay aware of how you’re sitting all day. But what do the body mechanic experts, such as your chiropractor, have to say about it?

The Truth Behind the Claims

One of the biggest claims made by proponents of the exercise ball as a chair is that it increases your comfort while sitting, helping to reduce fatigue. Well, studies reported by the National Institutes of Health have found that there’s no difference in comfort level between people that sit in regular chairs and sit on exercise balls through the course of their day.

Another claim is that exercise balls engage your abs, helping to strengthen those muscles as you are forced to stabilize your body on the ball. This one has, unfortunately, also been found to not be the boon to muscle tone many have thought. No difference has actually been found in studies of the muscles used to sit on the ball and muscles used when sitting in a chair.

A study published by the Center of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders actually found that exercise balls can increase your risk of developing back pain and even increase your risk of injury because you can roll right off the ball if you’re not careful.

The Truth

The truth is that picking a chair that is ergonomically correct is the right way to go. Choosing a chair that supports your arms, legs, and lower back is going to do you the most good and make your chiropractor the happiest when they see you at your regular adjustments. So, leave the exercise ball in the gym and invest in a good chair!

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