Balls are one of the earliest toys we play with as kids. Remember the hours of fun you spent at the beach with your rainbow-colored sphere? Or those mini versions of basketballs you and your dad used to play with at home? Those were fun times, weren't they? It is no wonder, then, that even as adults, we never get over the fun that balls have to offer. Even in fitness.
One of the coolest pieces of exercise equipment ever invented is the exercise ball. While originally used in the 1960's in physiotherapy programs involving newborns and infants, exercise balls have now become staples in the fitness industry. From general fitness to strength training to Yoga and Pilates, exercise balls can now be classified as one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that any gym or health enthusiast, for that matter, can have.
Exercise balls, usually measuring 14 to 34 inches in diameter, are beneficial for workouts primarily because of their inherent instability. This might run contrary to all logic, but because an exercise ball is never steady, it engages more muscles in the body for balance. Over time, the core muscles of the abdomen, back and pelvis, get strengthened and as a result the body achieves stability, coordination and balance. With a well-developed core, good posture and proper alignment is achieved.
Aside from strengthening the core, exercise balls are also used to build endurance and alleviate pain. As the major muscles get toned and developed through constant ball exercises, fitness buffs are able to do more reps and sets of strength and cardio exercises. Athletes are able to run faster, swim longer and lift better with constant exercise ball exercises.
Flexibility is also developed with the exercise ball. Ball rotation, back extension and ball twist exercises serve to practice the body in moving in and out of different positions. This greatly restores, enhances or develops flexibility. Greater flexibility means smoother movements, lesser injuries and more agility in everyday activities.
And for those on the road to losing weight, working out with an exercise ball is just what you need. Not only are ab crunches and other bodyweight exercises fun to do on the exercise ball, they are also more intense, leading you to develop more muscle. The more muscle you gain, the more fat you lose.
The exercise ball is such a versatile piece of equipment that others have even suggested replacing office chairs with it. Although assertions like balance, spine alignment and core muscle strengthening are also made when one replaces a chair with an exercise ball, there has really been no extensive to prove these just yet. Some quarters do not recommend such due to ergonomic reasons.
Whether exercise balls are beneficial as chair replacements or not, the truth of the matter remains. These versatile spheres have already earned their place in the fitness industry and they are here to stay. They don't only put the fun back in exercise, they also develop major muscles in the body which are the foundations of a balanced stance, good posture, overall strength, added flexibility and prevention of injury. With an exercise ball in your workouts, you can count the benefits!