Benefits of Sitting on a Stability Ball

By Amy Occhipinti

Jul 21, 2020

Why Should I Use a Stability Ball?

Experiencing the negative effects of sitting in an office chair? Here are five benefits of sitting on an exercise ball:

Burn Extra Calories

As a personal trainer, you may not spend a large portion of your day sitting. However, many of your clients may sit for eight or more hours a day. That's where you come in.
While you probably focus on form and stance during each session, part of being a successful personal trainer is integrating your knowledge and expertise beyond the gym. You must be willing to go the extra mile and offer advice that your clients can take home with them. If your client is interested in replacing their office chair with a stability ball; when it is used correctly, remind them of the added bonus: extra burned calories.

What is the correct way to use a stability ball for sitting?

Keep your knees hip-width apart.
Keep both feet on the ground.
Straighten your spine and roll your shoulders back (you may need to adjust the position of your keyboard and computer) so that your neck is not bent.
As you sit, make slight circular or side-to-side movements with your buttocks and back to keep your abs activated.
It's simple, really: The more we move, the more calories we burn. The more time sitting actively on the stability ball, the more you move.

Relieve Back Pain

Unfortunately, sitting on a stability ball isn't going to miraculously alleviate any pain you are experiencing. However, if you take a moment to stretch your back muscles while sitting on the stability ball, you may be able to relieve some of the pain you are experiencing.

Here are some stability ball exercises to alleviate pain:

Side stretch: Sit up straight and spread your legs about hip-width apart with your feet flat on the ground. Put your right hand on your hip and stretch your left hand up and over to your right side. Hold for five seconds and switch sides. Repeat three times.

Spine rotation: While sitting straight up on the stability ball, bring your palms together at your chest so your fingers are pointing upward. While keeping your head centered with your palms, and without moving your hips, rotate your body to the right, hold for five seconds, then to the left. Repeat three times.

Bridge: Sit on the exercise ball with your arms to your sides and slowly walk your feet out while leaning back slightly. Move down on the ball until it is on your upper back. Raise your arms over your head so your back forms a bridge. Use your legs to roll the ball up to your mid-spine and try to deepen the stretch. Hold the position for ten to fifteen seconds and slowly return to your starting position.

Tone Core Muscles
While simply sitting on a stability ball will not tone your muscles, having the stability ball on-hand will make it much more practical to take a moment to do exercises to tone your abs and obliques.

Back health is closely connected to core muscle strength. Research shows that core strengthening helps to reduce hip muscle imbalance and helps to reduce low back pain.

Take a short ten-minute break at least once a day to perform a couple of exercises, such as:

Plank with forearms on the ball
Ball squat
Shoulder curl and press
Half ball crunch
Reverse crunch
If you have a serious back or spinal condition, make sure to check with your doctor before trying out these stability ball exercises.

Breathe Better

When you are slouched over, your lungs are shortened, so you breathe in less air. One innovative study published in 2019 examined the impact of sitting posture on lung function.

The study found that when sitting posture maintained a neutral lower back curve people had much greater air capacity and overall improved lung function.

As long as you are using the stability ball properly and your muscles are activated to have a neutral sitting posture, it can help you breathe better.

Induce the Inspiration to Stretch
Maybe it's just us, but it's rather difficult as a trainer to sit on a stability ball without taking a break or two during the day to stretch out and relieve some tension.

The stability ball, in addition to functioning as your seat, can also be a tool to help you stretch to relieve any strain you might feel. It can also provide added support when you want to get a deeper stretch that you may not have been able to perform otherwise.

Other Suggestions to Improve Posture

Choosing the right seat is just one of the things you can do to improve sitting posture and overall back health. Other things you can do on a regular basis include:

Stretch regularly. Stretching your hamstrings on a daily basis in the workplace generates a more aligned spine and a more favorable trunk inclination.

When you stand, make sure you are distributing your weight evenly on each foot.
Get up to walk at regular intervals.
Strengthen your thigh muscles.
Stretch and rotate your neck.

Sit actively. Sitting on a stability ball naturally encourages you to sit actively, but you can also sit actively in chairs and on benches by reminding yourself to center your trunk over your spine.
Use correct back support. This is particularly helpful when you are sitting in a chair. It is important to invest in good back support, choosing seating that naturally helps you sit in a neutral, yet supported, position so you can feel relaxed while sitting upright.

When you are texting or reading, keep your cellphone or book at eye level so your neck isn’t curved downward.

Avoid wearing high heels. Use shoes with good arch support on a regular basis and save your high heels for a special night out.

Choose a firm mattress and a low pillow.

Main Takeaways
Remember that sitting on a stability ball isn't going to be a panacea for the eight-hour workday. And, while using a stability ball can alleviate a lot of the strain you may experience when sitting in an office chair, many experts still argue whether it has the advantages people seek, and some research has shown that sitting on an exercise ball may have disadvantages, such as spinal shrinkage. The truth is, sitting all day—regardless of sitting in a chair versus on a stability ball—can negatively impact your health.

For best results, switch back and forth between using a chair and a stability ball. And, don't forget to stand up throughout the workday to mitigate any possible health concerns associated with sitting for a long period of time.