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Exercise Ball: uses and benefits

Introducing an exercise ball to your workout is a great way to improve core stability, build lean muscle mass whilst also protecting your joints. The exercise ball can be used in multiple ways in a wide range of stretching and muscle relaxing exercises. Some of the benefits of yoga ball exercise include:

  • improved posture;
  • increased balance and stability;
  • strengthening of abdominal and back muscles;
  • greater lumbar (lower back) mobility;
  • development and strengthening of core body muscles;

You can introduce an exercise ball to your workout by simply sitting on the ball for 30 minutes a day, bouncing lightly to find and maintain balance on the ball. When you feel ready, you can incorporate muscle strengthening exercises, focussing on abs, legs and back.

Exercise Ball Workouts for abs

In your workout with an exercise ball, the aim is to focus on core musclesstrengthening your pelvisback and abdomen. To start, lie with the ball under your lower back, knees bent and feet on the floor hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your ears. Engage your core, tighten your glutes and slowly raise your upper body, lifting your shoulders from the ball whilst keeping your chin tucked into your chest. Slowly lower yourself back down.
Complete 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

To vary these crunches: start in the same position but slowly raise up to your right, lifting your shoulders from the ball whilst rotating your upper body to the right. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat on the left side.
Complete 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

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To add some leg movement to your abs workout: Sit balancing on the ball with your core engaged. Lift your right foot off the ground and bring your right knee towards your chest. Slowly lower your right foot and repeat with the left foot.
Complete 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

Next engage your core and crunch up, raising your right knee towards your chest and at the same time rotating your upper body to touch your left elbow to your right knee (like a bicycle crunch). Lower your foot and upper body at the same time, then repeat on the other side.
Complete 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps.

Exercise Ball Workouts for legs

There are many exercise ball workouts to tone your legs and strengthen your core. Start by lying on your back with your heels on top of the ball, legs straight. Place your arms flat on the floor, engage your glutes and hamstrings and raise your hips to the ceiling. Keep the position for a few seconds before slowly lowering yourself down.
Repeat 20 times.

Continue by lying on your back, widen your knees and dig your heels into the sides of the ball. Engage your glutes and inner thighs and raise your hips to the ceiling.
Bend and straighten your legs 10 times before lowering.

Next, stand up and position the ball between your lower back and the wall. Engage your glutes and slowly bend your knees into a wide squat. Hold the position at the bottom for a few seconds before returning to the start position.
Repeat 20 times.

Exercise Ball Workouts for back

Exercise with a fitness ball can be extremely beneficial for sufferers of back pain. Using an exercise ball allows the spine to move in a controlled manner and this nourishes the discs by increasing blood flow around them.

Start your workout with gentle and small movements: sit on the exercise ball with your arms by your sides or on your hips and slowly move your hips back and forth.
Repeat 20 times.
Now do the same exercise but this time shift your weight to the left and to the right.
Repeat 20 times.

Continue with this spine rotation exercise: sit on the ball and raise your arms straight in front of you without twisting at the spine, move both arms across the body to the right and then to the left.
Repeat 20 times on each side.

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FAQ

The exercise ball is undoubtedly one of the most popular pieces of gym equipment. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about exercises with an exercise ball.

Are exercise balls good for lower back pain?

Yes! Strengthening the muscles around your spine is one of the most effective ways of reducing lower back pain. An exercise ball can be used in a variety of simple balance and stability exercises to improve core strength and help prevent future lower back injuries.

Are exercise balls good for your back?

Definitely, if they are used correctly. Exercise balls can be a great tool to help you recover from lower back injuries by helping you activate and strengthen your spinal muscles. When sitting on an exercise ball, or using it in a workout, your body uses the muscles that stabilise your spine in order to prevent you from falling or losing your balance. Just sitting on an exercise ball for a few minutes a day can have huge benefits to your posture and health of your spine.

Are exercise balls good to sit on at work?

When sitting on an exercise ball instead of a traditional office chair your body is required to use its muscles more actively in order to find stability. The advantage of this is that you are increasing your core strength, improving your posture and avoiding the discomfort of sitting for many hours in the same position. However, this does not necessarily help with back pain. In fact, there is scientific evidence that sitting on exercise balls instead of chairs for long periods of time can actually increase the risk of developing lower back problems. Exercise balls should be used exclusively for training sessions!

Are exercise balls good for abs?

Exercise balls can be an excellent tool for toning your abdominal muscles and can be incorporated in a number of different exercises including crunches, tucks and planks. These movements activate more of your core muscles, building strength in your pelvis, back, and abdomen.

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