Health Ball Fundamentals

Why Use a Fitness Ball?

A fitness ball (also called a stability ball) is a great way to improve your total body strength, endurance, core stability, posture and body awareness. When you first sit on a ball, it is natural to feel unstable and maybe a bit uncomfortable. The best way to increase your comfort level is to use the ball more. Use it more often and the faster you’ll see better balance, stronger core muscles, more self confidence and better body control. When lifting weights, the fitness ball is a better choice than a chair or bench because it forces you to balance while conducting these weight training movements. You’ll strengthen your body as a unit and see better results, faster.,How to Buy Your First Fitness Ball

Fitness balls come in both metric and standard sizes. To determine your correct size and a preliminary fit, look for height ranges on the box. Before buying, have the ball inflated to the correct size (measured by a tape) and perform the following test. First sit just slightly forward and comfortably on the ball. With your feet 12 inches apart and flat on the floor and knees at a 90 degree angle; check your knees to make sure they are slightly higher than the hips. If they are, you have the right size. If they are too high or too low it means you need the next larger or smaller size ball.,Fitness Ball Workout Tips

Once you sit on the fitness ball and feel comfortably balanced, do not place your hands on the ball again until you stand-up. Your lower body and core want to do the balance work, not your hands. If you are correctly positioned, you will be just forward of the top on the front 1/3 of the ball. Sitting on the front third prevents you from falling backwards. By sitting on the front 1/3, if you were to fall off (which is rare), you would travel forward, right or left. Changing position on the ball starts by repositioning your feet first. As you move your feet forward, back, left or right, your body position will follow.,Once positioned on the ball, pick a spot on the wall in front of you to avoid looking down at your feet or the floor. Looking forward improves your ability to balance and allows you to watch the instructor if in a class. Make sure to sit up straight and maintain good posture. Your breathing pattern on the ball will generally be tied to any pushing, pulling or turning activities you are doing.,Fitness Ball Exercises

There are many excellent exercises you can do on a fitness ball. Both for safety and comfort, it’s best to have your fitness professional or someone knowledgeable with the ball with you the first few times. Here are several ball fitness exercises listed in order of difficulty.,Beginner Balance

Sit on the forward top third of a correctly sized fitness ball with your feet about 12 inches a part. While sticking your arms out to the side for balance, move yourself forward by walking your feet away from the ball. Go as far as you feel comfortable. Make sure to sit up straight. Now, walk your feet back again until you reach the starting point. Try moving your body left or right by walking your feet to the side. Again, go as far as you feel comfortable. Return to the center and go the other direction next. Remember to breathe and maintain good posture. Try this for about 5 minutes.,Core Strengthener

Sit on the forward top third of a correctly sized fitness ball with your feet about 12 inches a part. Stick your arms out to the side for balance and then raise 1 leg off the floor about 1 inch. While breathing regularly, try holding this position for 30 seconds. If you start to lose balance, just return the foot to the floor and raise it again when you are steady. Now try this for 30 seconds with the other foot up. Notice if one side seems easier than the other.,Fitness Ball Bridge

Sit on the forward top third of a correctly sized fitness ball with your feet about 12 inches a part. Stick your arms out for balance to the front and slowly walk your feet forward as you lie down on the ball. You are correctly positioned when your head is flat on the top of the ball. Keep your hips up and back flat by pushing your bellybutton towards the ceiling. Check your feet and make sure they are under your knees, hip width apart. Breathe normally throughout the entire exercise as you hold for a count of 10. Return to the sitting position by pushing with your feet and using your abdominal and back muscles to sit-up again.,Try these fitness ball exercises for a more dynamic workout. Check with me for more information and guidance.

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