Choosing an Exercise Ball
Before you buy a ball, make sure it's the right size for your height. To test it, sit on the ball and make sure your hips are level or just slightly higher than the knees :
55 cm - 4'11" -
65 cm - 5'5" - 5'11"
75 cm - 6'0" - 6' 7"
If you're overweight or obese, you might be wondering if you can use an exercise ball. Many companies sell burst-resistant balls that often hold 600 or more pounds, such as Ball Dynamics. You can find exercise balls at most department stores (Target, Walmart, etc.), sporting goods stores or you can order it online. One of my favorite companies, SPRI offers quality exercise balls at reasonable prices.
How To Use Your ExerciseBall
Exercise balls challenge by putting your body in an unstable environment. When you lie on the ball, your legs and abs immediately contract to keep you from falling off. Add an exercise to that (like a chest press or a crunch), and you've just increased the intensity of the movement. Bonus: Exercise balls are versatile enough to use for just about anything, including:
- Weight training. Use the stability ball as your new 'weight bench' to add difficulty to the movements and incorporate the muscles of your legs, butt and abs.
- Abdominal training. Doing crunches, twists and other traditional exercises on the ball adds difficulty to the movement by recruiting more muscles as in this [link urk=http://exercise.about.com/cs/abs/l/bl_core.htm]Core Workout.
- Sitting around. Just sitting on an exercise ball can be a challenge and it's a great way to improve your posture when sitting in front of a computer or watching television. Practice by sitting on it and raising one foot off the ground and balancing or try some of these beginner ball exercises.
- Flexibility, yoga and pilates exercises. The ball is great for stretching and relaxing, such as in this Relaxing Stretch on the Ball workout or this Yoga on the Ball workout.
- Playing around. It's a workout tool but, don't forget, it's also a ball. Your kids will love playing with it, just keep an eye on them so they don't hurt themselves.
Exercise Ball Workouts
Your best source of ball workouts are exercise videos. Check out Collage Video's exercise ball videos or this database of exercise ball videos and books for basic exercises. For a variety of workouts, from strength training to yoga, visit my Exercise Ball Workouts for ideas.