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Ball Exercises While Sitting
Exercise balls are versatile -- they adapt to most exercises performed on stable ground. But a wobbly exercise ball recruits more muscles for stability, improving balance. Use balls with or without resistance to improve flexibility, core stability, muscle strength, and cardio. Select a ball that allows you to sit tall with your upper and lower legs at a 90 degree angle, feet shoulder-width apart for stability. Master sitting comfortably on the ball before adding movement and resistance.
Sitting on Ball
This exercise helps strengthen the back muscles. Sit on the ball with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Slowly raise and lower your arms, alternating sides. Then slowly raise and lower your heel, again, alternating sides. Next, slowly raise and lower your left heel and right arm together. Switch sides and repeat. Finally, take turns raising your feet about 2 inches off the ground in a marching motion. Perform this exercise for 60 seconds.
The ball crunch works the abdominal, hip and thigh muscles. Lie with your lower back against the ball, legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Let your upper torso hang off the top of the ball. Cross your arms at your chest. To start, stretch your torso back over the ball, keeping your neck stable. Contract your abdominals and slowly curl forward. Hold for a moment then return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
This exercise works the triceps and abdominals. Sit on the ball with feet hipwidth or more apart and flat on the floor. Line up your neck and head with your spine and maintain stability and alignment through the exercise, being careful not to hit your head with the dumbbell. Hold a dumbbell in both hands and extend your arms upward. Position the dumbbell over your head, palms facing up. Lower the dumbbell behind your head until your elbows are at 90 degrees, then raise it. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions.
Perform this cardio routine for one minute between each strength training set. Sit on the ball with abdominals tightened. For the ball jog, hold your legs together and bring your knees up high then down, while bouncing on the ball. For the step touch, sit on the ball with your feet together. Bring your left foot out to the side. Then bring your right foot to meet the left. Return to the starting position and switch sides. Repeat. For the ski step, remain seated on the ball with your feet together. Lift your feet and swing your legs to the left while swinging your arms to the right, simulating skiing. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Place the ball against a wall for support if needed. Also position mats on each side of the ball to keep it steady. Chairs and benches placed nearby can provide support should you lose control as well. Always use correct form, and consult your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise program.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Low Back Pain Exercise Guide
- American Council on Exercise; Stability Ball Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
- Sekendiz B, Cuğ M, Korkusuz F. Effects of Swiss-ball core strength training on strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance in sedentary women. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(11):3032-40. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d82e70
- Yu W, Cha S, Seo S. The effect of ball exercise on the balance ability of young adults. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(12):2087-2089. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.2087
Amy Colgan-Niemeyer has been writing health-related articles since 2004. Her articles have appeared in Spina Bifida Association of America''s "Insights into Spina Bifida" magazine and she's contributed to the journal, "Pediatric Clinics of North America." Colgan-Niemeyer holds personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.