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How Do Exercise Balls Improve Balance?

How Do Exercise Balls Improve Balance?

Exercise balls have a lot of benefits and one of them is improving your overall balance.

Sitting on an exercise ball improves balance because you’re forced to maintain an upright position where your back is straight and your pelvis is parallel to the ground. This position challenges your core which is responsible for supporting your upper body.

The more you challenge your core, the stronger it becomes, which, in turn, improves your balance.

But being forced to sit upright for a long time is just one way an exercise ball can help you improve your balance. It may be challenging at first, but over time, you will get used to it.

So don’t be fooled by the simplicity of an exercise ball. Sitting on it may sound simple, but there are other exercises you can do that challenge your core.

In the post below, we discuss the benefits of an exercise ball and what exercises you can do with it to improve your balance.

Do Exercise Balls Improve Balance?

different exercise balls

Yes, exercise balls can improve balance especially if the type of exercises you do with them involves putting your weight on the ball.

It’s only when you put weight on an exercise ball like the  that your core, legs, and arm muscles are activated. This is because your body will struggle to maintain the ball’s center of gravity to the middle.

In effect, you continuously improve your balance and stability while using the exercise ball.

For example, if you sit on an exercise ball, you are supposed to maintain your upright position throughout the time that you’re sitting.

Since the ball has a high chance that it will roll to one side, you will have to activate your core and leg muscles in order to keep the ball from rolling and prevent you from falling.

What is the Purpose of Exercise Balls?

Exercise ball on a yoga mat

There are many uses to an exercise ball which makes it versatile physical therapy equipment that you can use at home. Here are some things an exercise ball is used for:

Burn Extra Calories

Women exercising with exercise balls outside

Whether you are simply sitting on the ball or you’re doing stretches with it, an exercise ball reinforces calorie burning.

From our example above, sitting on the  activates your core and leg muscles. The more these muscles are activated, the more calories they burn.

Moreover, the struggle with maintaining your balance on the ball will require you to move from time to time. And the more movement you make, the more calories you burn.

Improve Balance

People Sitting and exercising with exercise balls

As mentioned at the start of this post, exercise balls improve our balance.

Because of how unstable the ball can be, it is up to you to keep it from rolling away and from constantly moving. While doing this, you are improving your ability to balance yourself.

Improve Flexibility

Bouncing On an Exercise Ball

Your balance is not the only thing that gets improved when you use an exercise ball.

An exercise ball can help you stretch before and after a workout. The ball can help you reach a deeper stretch with your back, arms, and legs.

Regularly exercising with this ball will help improve your mobility and decrease your chances of tearing one or more muscles.

Reduce Back Pains

Exercise Balls for Back Pain

Another purpose of exercise balls is to alleviate back pains. In fact, the first use of exercise balls was in physical therapy sessions.

An exercise ball helps reduce back pains because it can be used for a number of back and shoulder stretches. A simple lying position on the exercise ball can immediately relieve your back from the constant slouching people are prone to when sitting on an office chair.

In line with this, when you start having a better sitting posture, you are able to activate your core muscles more regularly. In turn, it stabilizes the position of your spine.

It also improves your posture which is a good preventive method for reducing back pains.

How to Improve Balance With a Stability Ball?

There are a lot of exercises you can do with the . Just as its name suggests most of them focus on balance.

Lying Over the Ball

Woman crunching on exercise ball

This movement is more like a pose or stretch rather than an exercise and is often used in therapy sessions.

This position will help alleviate the lower back pains that you’ve been experiencing from poor posture and stress.

  1. You will first need to sit on the exercise ball.
  2. When you are able to keep your balance, slowly lie down on the ball moving the area of your lower back to the middle part of the ball.
  3. To help maintain your balance, your legs should be in a perpendicular position to the floor and your knees should be aligned with your hips.
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds and do this as needed.

Hip Lifts

Women crunching on exercise balls

Hip lifts help you test your balance while exercising your core and glutes.

  1. The first thing you need to do is make sure that the ball is near you so you can reach for it with your legs.
  2. Then, lie down on the mat and raise your legs to the ball. This position will create a triangle. If you think that you’re losing balance, press your palms to the floor.
  3. Once you’re in this position, raise your abdomen until you lift your upper back from the ground. Your shoulders should be planted firmly on the floor.
  4. Do eight repetitions to start. You can increase the repetitions after a while.


exercise balls support joints

For a more advanced workout, you can try doing push-ups using an exercise ball.

  1. Start by putting the exercise ball behind you.
  2. Get down on the floor as if doing a push-up. Place your hands beside your shoulders.
  3. Place your leg at the top of the balance ball. Do this one leg at a time. To know if you’re in the right position, the top part of your feet should be resting in the middle part on top of the ball. Your legs should be slanted since your upper body is still on the ground.
  4. Once you’re ready, slowly lift your upper body the same way you would when doing a regular push-up. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and your back should keep a slanted line with your buttocks.

Aside from the obvious challenge of lifting your body up, your feet should be able to keep the exercise ball in place.

Ball Squats

Woman doing wall squat with an exercise ball

Another exercise you can do with a balance ball is a ball squat.

This time, you won’t be sitting or lying over the ball. Instead, you will be propping the ball to the wall and you’ll be pushing against it.

  1. Place the exercise ball between you and the wall. You should be faced in the opposite direction from the wall and the ball should rest on the lower half of your back.
  2. Mimic a seating position with your legs but don’t worry about creating a 90-degree angle with your legs just yet.
  3. When you get the position right, slowly make a squat. As you go down, this is where your knees should form a 90-degree angle. To prevent the ball from falling over, maintain the same distance from the wall as you squat into position.

There are other exercises using a balance ball that focuses on keeping your balance.

The good thing about these exercises, however, is that they have other benefits than just improving your balance.

Take, for example, the hip lifts. It has two benefits where you improve your balance and strengthen the muscles in other areas of your body.

How Long Should You Sit on an Exercise Ball?

fit balls teach proper posture.jpg

The maximum time you should sit on an exercise ball at one time is two hours.

Prolonged sitting on an exercise ball increases the risk of getting several diseases. Some of these are chronic back and hip pains and diabetes.

While this seems ironic for exercise equipment focused on improving balance and alleviating back pains, observations on the use of exercise balls show that the wrong exercise ball size and the wrong posture can lead to more harm than good.

To reap the benefits of an exercise ball, keep your sitting periods limited to 1-2 hours a day mixed with standing and stretching from time to time.

Some people like to keep a note next to their computer screen to remind themselves to stand and/or check their posture. This allows them to check if they’re slouching or to take a few steps (even if it’s just to refill a water tumbler).


Exercise balls are used by elderly people

Exercise balls improve balance because they consciously remind you to adjust your posture so the ball remains stable underneath you.

This benefit is experienced when you do exercises on the ball that involve putting your weight on it. This is because the muscles in your core and limbs will continuously work to help you stay upright.

There are other purposes of an exercise ball than just improving balance. It can also help improve flexibility, reduce back pains, and burn a few extra calories.

However, it’s not recommended you sit on a balance ball for more than two hours straight. To reap the benefits of an exercise ball, adjust your posture from time to time and alternate it with standing and stretching.