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Health Benefits of Sitting on an Exercise Ball

Reasons to Give Up Your Desk Chair For an Exercise Ball

This week I replaced my office chair with an exercise ball. Aside from being fun to bounce around on while blogging, sitting on a ball over a regular desk chair has other benefits. If you're desk-bound, here are some reasons to consider swapping out your chair for a stability ball.

Better Posture
With no chair back to slouch into or armrests to lean on, you're almost forced to keep your back straight, which can encourage better posture. Although there's no scientific evidence to back this up — studies show that sitting on a medicine ball can still lead to slumping — I have to say that my posture has definitely improved since I started using a medicine ball instead of a chair. Using an exercise ball doesn't automatically result in better posture; you have to remain aware of your torso and maintain a straight spine. Of course you can do this on a regular chair too, but sitting on a ball with no back or arms acts a constant reminder.

Stronger Core
Sitting up tall forces you to use your core muscles, which not only tones your midsection, but can also help prevent back pain. Remember to actively sit on the ball with a straight back — slouching forward on a ball will not give you a six pack!

Continue reading to find out two more reasons you'll want to sit on an exercise ball at your desk.

Inspiration to Stretch
Let's face it — although you're using the ball as a piece of furniture, it's still a piece of exercise equipment. So you can't sit on it without being inspired to do some stretches or strengthening moves. Some of my faves are lying on my back for backbend crunches and lying on my belly for upper back lifts.

Reduced Damage From Sitting
A desk job often means sitting in the same position, hour after hour, but you should be aware that staying sedentary for so long could be lethal. It's easy to slump into your seat and stay in one spot, but when sitting on an unstable ball, it often rolls when you make the smallest shift in weight, which forces you to change your position often to prevent falling off. This added movement averages out to an extra 30 calories burned per day.

Using an exercise ball as a chair may seem easy, but it's pretty challenging on your muscles since they're so used to relaxing into a chair. Make sure you use the proper size ball so that you're able to reach your keyboard and see your screen with proper alignment. Start off with sitting for a half hour and gradually build up to sitting all day. For a little more stability, you might find it easier to use Gaiam's Balance Ball Chair ($120) that includes a balance ball and a base that prevents the ball from rolling away.

Source: Flickr User e skene

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