Using Stability Balls in Your Workouts

While it’s true that many people will purchase hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of training equipment for use in their home, not all of us have that possibility. When it comes time for you to purchase some type of exercise equipment for use when you can’t make it to the gym, or when weather doesn’t permit you to go for walks or runs, often simpler is better. Simple equipment can be used in a multitude of ways, so there really isn’t a necessity for a huge budget, or additional choices if you want to try something new (such as working a different group of muscles for example). And probably the most simple exercise product you can find is a stability ball.

These balls found their birth back in the 1960s, and were used primarily for physical therapy purposes for people with orthopaedic issues. However, it’s popularity grew quickly as a tool which could be used for various fitness training needs, and you will find them today in both home and commercial gyms just about everywhere.

Commonly used for strengthening muscles, the stability ball provides an unstable surface to work with, forcing your muscles to readjust on a continual basis in order to not only maintain balance, but posture as well. The back and abdominal muscles are those which most often benefit from this type of fitness routing.

You can use stability balls in just about any type of exercise, as they are not associated with any one particular type. From weight training to yoga, Pilates to do-it-yourself exercise plans, they are of great use in any exercise which targets the core of your body. Sit-ups can be made easier (or for others, more challenging) by using a stability ball. Exercises in balance can be practiced time and again, including balancing your entire body on the ball. No matter what your choice of exercise is, there is likely a way to enhance it with a stability ball.

There are various sizes of stability balls available, and not all are suitable for every person. Some of the factors determining the appropriate size of your stability ball are your height, your weight and more importantly, the length of your legs. Generally speaking, anyone under 5’ should be using a ball measuring 45 cm. For people 5’ to 5’7” the ideal size is 55 cm, and any taller than that you should be choosing a stability ball measuring 65 cm.

When you’re sitting on the stability ball, your legs should always be placed at a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, and your hips should find themselves at the same height as your knees. This position should feel natural, and you shouldn’t need to have to stretch in any direction for your feet to comfortably hit the floor. If you do, your ball is the wrong size. The same applies if your thighs aren’t parallel to the floor.

The more firm the stability ball is, the most benefit it will provide you. The reason for this is the amount of challenge there is for you to remain balanced. However, there are certain conditions where a softer ball is more beneficial, such as for those women who are seriously out of shape, elderly or disabled and those who are overweight. Most sporting goods stores, as well as department stores carry a variety of different balls. You can also order them online.

No matter what your fitness level is, you’ll find the stability ball to be a great starting place, or addition to your present fitness routine. While it might take getting used to, once the habit has been mastered keeping your balance will become second nature. It will also assist you in other aspects of your life as well. If you can only get yourself one piece of sporting or fitness equipment, consider a stability ball. It will get you more bang for your buck for the beginning of your new fitness adventures.

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