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Fit Tip: Trade Your Office Chair For an Exercise Ball

I really don't believe we evolved to sit all day long. Sitting creates tight hips and hamstrings, causes a tight neck and shoulders, and often leads to back pain. If you suffer from these ailments, ditch your regular office chair and replace it with an exercise ball ($27).

When you sit on a firmly inflated ball, you'll improve your balance and tone your core muscles from your desk. It allows you to focus on keeping your spine long, and you can even use the fitness ball for wall squats or other exercises during the day. Sitting on a ball has also been proven to help kids focus and do better in school. If it works for them, it'll work for you, too.

If you're worried about the ball being too roly-poly, and not having a back support to lean on, then check out Gaiam's BalanceBall Chair ($99). I know it's kind of pricey, but if it can prevent discomfort while you work, then isn't it worth it? To see a video of this ball in action



mademoiselle2009 mademoiselle2009 8 years
am i the only one who keeps hearing Mac noises? the Entourage new mail noise, the throwing away of trash, etc.
animatedpunk animatedpunk 8 years
a woman at my previous job was pregnant and used an exercise ball for her chair. One day HR came and said it was against company policy and that she had to use a regular chair. Something about it not being safe? I thought it was BS, but she had to get rid of it.
mod16 mod16 8 years
interesting... my friend did this and i thought she was weird
hottpink hottpink 8 years
Has anyone ever tried those kneeling chairs? I've heard they are good for back pain from people that sit all day.
Jack-D Jack-D 8 years
I have one at my office and I love it! I usually only use it in the morning for a few hours. A lot of people walk by and comment on how they should get one too.
psterling psterling 8 years
The ergonomics nazis at my work have banned these because apparently they're terrible for your back and most likely aren't the right height for you at your desk so you're putting your wrists at risk too.
mtiger mtiger 8 years
I don't think I could do it all day...and I don't know if work would go for that!
356UIK 356UIK 8 years
LOL! I did this for about a month about a year go. I caught A LOT of flack for it, and the damn peanut gallery here irritated the crap out of me SO much that I just gave up. Never sure whether it helped my body out or not. Oh well. :P it was fun while it lasted...
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
There is a few ladies here at my job that use balls instead of chairs. I wonder if I could do that all day.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
One of my undergrad advisors has these in her office! It's kind of fun to sit on...until your abs start to burn! I think it's a good idea.
1apple 1apple 8 years
berrypeachie and millarci - too funny!
millarci millarci 8 years
This reminds me of that episode on the Office when Dwight replaces his chair with an exercise ball and Jim pops it with scissors. But on a serious note, I think this is a good idea.
berrypeachie berrypeachie 8 years
My boyfriend has a ball chair, its super bouncy. I like sitting on it to bounce on but the problem is I would probably bounce too much and not be able to focus on working.
chameleon7 chameleon7 8 years
I just read that using a ball for an office chair is not a good idea. The article I read says that it can be hard to maintain good posture and you can end up straining your back muscles and irritate your spinal nerves, but if you insist on using one for an office chair to sit with your knees above your butt and lean slightly back from the hips to avoid the straining.
awfal awfal 8 years
While prolonged sitting increases compressive forces on the discs, there is no evidence that sitting on a swiss ball will reduce the occurrence of low back pain, or even improve "core" muscle activation.
Jennyusagi Jennyusagi 8 years
I have the Gaiam one. A few points: - It takes a while to develop the core & back strength to be able to sit on the ball all day. I could only do an hour or two at first and had to work up. But sitting on the ball made me more aware of my posture so I kept my spine aligned properly. - You're not actually supposed to use the "back" as back support, it doesn't look like it in the photos, but it's too far away to be very useful/comfortable. Also the instructions specifically say not to lean on it. It's only there for stability during certain exercises (meaning in the booklet of moves that come with the chair, only one uses the back for stability). I tossed mine. - You can eventually learn to slouch forward on them once you really get used to sitting on it. I now have a sit/stand desk and only use it sometimes.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
I wish I had that chair with my first pregnancy. I would rotate from a chair to a ball and sometimes I would get so restless that I would start bouncing really good on it and fall over. The chair may have prevented this.
alikat07 alikat07 8 years
My sister has a balance ball chair, and really likes it. I doubt I could get my work to go for it, unfortunately. Maybe for home eventually
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I think it looks pretty comfortable.
1apple 1apple 8 years
IMHO, using the ball as a chair is probably not the greatest idea. The initial upright posture is likely to be lost over a long period of sitting because there is no full seat and back support. It would excessively fatigue the muscles. Also, it's too hard to navigate around a workstation while on a ball, and getting on/off or reaching from the ball may consitute a falling hazard. (At least it would for me!) And it looks like in the second picture, most of the exercise benefits would be lost while not giving the legs/butt enough support. Also, people will laugh at you nonstop! :0)
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 8 years
I would love to get one of these... but I work with family and I would never hear the end of it about this ball-chair.
foxie foxie 8 years
I need this. My workplace is so cramped and the way the computers are positioned gives me ZERO legroom, so I have to scoot away from the desk and lean forward to use the computer! =( I'm pretty sure that if I brought in an exercise ball I'd be made fun of relentlessly though.
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