Excited about Exercise Balls

group of smiling women with exercise balls in gymAre you bored with your usual workout routine? Looking for a way to incorporate new exercises into your regimen? Lucky for you, there is a solution: the exercise ball. Sometimes, referred to as a stability ball, exercise balls reap many health benefits, provide an excellent desk chair, and integrate a new and unique element into workout routines.

Imported from Europe to America in the 1980s, exercise balls have quickly gained tremendous popularity. Exercise ball workouts require no further equipment, target core muscles, and can improve stability and posture. Workouts with exercise balls usually encompass strength exercises, but can feature some cardio as well, making them extremely handy. Highly versatile, they can be utilized for an abundance of moves, stretches and circuits. Even better, they are easily stored in dorm rooms. On those days you just can’t seem to make it to the gym, try an exercise ball workout right in your dorm room, and enjoy a new exercise routine.

Many people use these exercise balls as a desk chair, and while it might sound crazy, studies show that using an exercise ball as a desk chair improves posture, creates a stronger core and inspires people to stretch or bounce around, ultimately increasing blood flow to the brain. Additionally, these balls play a prominent role in rehabilitation. Emmy Hernandez, University of Dayton, Accounting ’16, exclaims, “After a minor back injury, I used an exercise ball to stretch out my back and improve my core muscles at least three times a week.” A sure way to workout, sit at a desk or rehabilitate, exercise balls are suited for almost everyone.

For people new to the exercise ball or regular users looking for some new moves, try this exercise ball workout circuit:

  1. Mountain climbers: Place forearms on the exercise ball and alternate bringing knees up towards the ball for one minute.
  2. Total Body Crunches: Lay your back on the ball and stretch back completely over the ball and then crunch up to a 90° angle for one minute.
  3. Booty Lifter: Lay shoulders and upper back on the ball and bend legs perpendicular to the floor with your feet on the ground. Bend trunk towards the floor back and forth for one minute.
  4. Burpees: Hold ball above head. With the ball still in your hands, drop to the floor into a pushup position, with the ball still beneath you. Hop back to feet and extend the ball above head for one minute.
  5. Hamstring burner: Lay on your back on the floor. Place feet on the ball with legs bent at the knees. Lift your back off the floor and repeat for one minute.

This five minute workout should be repeated at least three times for a complete workout, but if you are in a hurry or just starting out, can be completed however many times you wish!

The versatility of these exercise balls makes them an easy choice at the gym and in your dorm or apartment room.  They come in different sizes, can be tailored to your height, so everyone is sure to find the perfect exercise ball for them. Forget the classic crunch and use these balls to target muscles often overlooked with just one piece of all-purpose exercise equipment

Photo Credit: Jennifer Collins

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