If you frequent a gym or have a home gym, you may have some familiarity with stability balls. Stability balls are used in a variety of exercises. Most people use stability balls for core strengthening, i.e. the back and abdominal muscles. A common trend is to replace the typical office desk chair with a stability ball. So what are the benefits, you ask?
It takes very little effort to sit in a desk chair, but a stability ball presumably can help build your core strength. The stability ball engages the core muscles. Also, when sitting upright and with proper form, stability balls can promote good posture. Lastly, you may burn a few extra calories without much effort.
Ironically, as much as the stability ball can promote good posture, when used incorrectly, it can lead to poor posture. In addition, because a stability ball does not have back support, over time it can put a strain on your back, shoulders and neck.
What to do, if you make the switch
If you’ve never used a stability ball, I would advise that you practice with it before using it at work. Also keep in mind you may need permission from your employer to bring a stability ball into the work place. Lastly, we are all individuals, one size does not fit all. Find a stability ball that suits your size and height. Make sure the height of the stability ball in relation to your desk and computer does not compromise what is ergonomically safe.
If you are able to bring a stability ball to work, I recommend starting out for a few minutes a day first. It may not be realistic to sit on a stability ball for an entire work day, but alternating the stability ball with a desk chair at varying intervals may be more practical. Bottomline, do what feels comfortable for you and weigh the risk and benefits in relation to your personal health. Seek guidance from your physician as well.
Have realistic expectations. Don’t expect wash-board abs or a six-pack. To get wash-board abs, you have to put in the work; it takes cardio and healthy eating to achieve wash-board abs. The whole idea of using a stability ball as an office chair is to promote and improve health.