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What are exercise balls used for?

What is an Exercise Ball?

An exercise ball is a ball constructed of soft elastic with a diameter of approximately 14 to 34 inches and filled with air. Exercise balls are most often used in physical therapy, athletic training, weight training and exercise. The exercise ball is also referred to as a Swiss ball, balance ball, yoga ball and many other names. Exercise balls have been used by physical therapists have used for years and is known as one of the best ways to strengthen the abs and back and increase stability.

Choosing an Exercise Ball

Before you buy a ball, make sure it's the right size for your height. Exercise balls come in industry-standard sizes: 55 cm, 65 cm, and 75 cm. These sizes indicate the height or diameter of the ball when fully inflated. To check the height, sit on the ball and make sure your hips are level or just slightly higher than the knees.

Exercise ball size chart:

User Height            Ball Size
4'11" - 5'4"             Small: 55 cm

5'5" - 5'11"             Medium: 65 cm
6'0" - 6' 7"              Large: 75 cm

If you have high weight requirement, burst-resistant balls that hold up to 600 pounds are also available.

Using the Exercise Ball

Exercise balls put your body in an unstable environment. When you sit on an exercise ball, your legs and abs immediately contract to stabilize your body. Exercise balls are very versatile and are mostly used for:

Weight training. Using the stability ball as a weight bench can add difficulty to the movements and incorporate the muscles of your legs, butt and abs into the workout.

Abdominal training. Using the ball to do crunches, twists and other traditional exercises also adds difficulty to the movement by recruiting more muscles as in this 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.

Flexibility, yoga and pilates exercises. Exercise balls are great for stretching and relaxing. Incorporating an exercise ball in Relaxing Stretches or Yoga workouts can greatly increase the efficiency of the exercise routine.

Playing around. Apart from being a versatile workout tool, exercise balls are also be quite fun. Kids love playing with it, and they can be used for relaxing and stretching after a hard workout.

Inflating the fitness ball:

The best way to fill your ball is with a specially made ball pump. Ball pumps fall under different categories like floor air pumps, electric air pumps, hand air pumps etc. Floor pumps provide the maximum amount of air pumping power per stroke. The main advantage of using a floor air pump is that the ball can be inflated with little effort and there’s no need for an electrical outlet. The disadvantage is portability due to their size. Electric Air Pumps require no effort on the user’s part to pump up the fitness ball. The disadvantage is the need to access an electrical outlet. Hand Air Pumps are less expensive and are quite portable. The disadvantage is the amount of effort it takes to pump up a ball.

Deflating the fitness ball:

To deflate the exercise ball, place the ball on the floor and look for the valve stem cover, which should be a small disc somewhere on the ball. Remove the valve stem carefully by placing fingernail under the lip of the stem and wiggling it upward. Grasp the valve stem firmly with the tips of the fingers and pull out using a twisting or back and forth motion if necessary. Apply pressure to the ball, by squeezing or lying on it. Then you can roll or fold the exercise ball, forcefully expelling air that remains. Never use a sharp object to remove the plug as you might puncture the ball or injure yourself.

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