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Do exercise ball chairs really work?

If you are looking to switch up your go-to seat, there’s a current craze that’s all about exercise ball chairs. The real question is if they really work and improve your posture, as they claim.
A common conclusion is that sitting all day is bad for you. Sitting in a basic office chair requires no muscle use at all. Also, slouching in a chair can worsen your posture and core strength, as noted by Prevention.
It is generally believed and accepted that sitting in a regular chair all day is bad for you. However, will switching out your desk chair for a bouncy exercise ball actually be better for you?

The cons of exercise ball chairs

Sitting on a ball increases pressure on the lower back and spine, which causes discomfort over time. Extended periods of sitting can also lead to poor posture. It does not matter whether you are on an office chair or an exercise ball chair — prolonged sitting needs to be avoided. You can combat potential injury and discomfort by alternating between standing and sitting at your desk. Or, take short breaks to walk around — aim for a break of 10 to 15 minutes every two hours. While exercise balls can be beneficial for your posture and core strength, they do not completely prevent back pain or injury.

exercise ball chair
Reza Estakhrian/Shutterstock

The pros of exercise ball chairs

On the bright side, the exercise ball chair requires you to use more muscles for sitting upright with good posture than a regular chair does. Sitting on the ball requires subtle muscle contractions of the core, hip, and leg muscles to maintain balance. This contributes to muscle tone. Exercise balls can help your muscles get more toned while improving your core strength. Without back support, your core is more engaged when you’re on an exercise ball. You will ultimately improve your stability and balance, and you can increase your daily calorie burn by a small amount.
Having an exercise ball as a chair can also encourage you to use it for short workout breaks. You can take five minutes out of your workday here and there to do short exercises that will help you refocus and get your blood flowing. Always remember to pair your exercise ball chair with occasional standing or walking to experience the best results. 

The best exercise ball chair 

An exercise ball chair can be called a stability ball, a Swiss ball, a yoga ball, or a birthing ball. No matter what you choose to call it, a quality exercise ball needs to support the weight of you, stay inflated with air, and deflate slowly if punctured. Wirecutter, a New York Times company that focuses on product reviews, spent more than 30 hours researching seven of the best exercise balls out of over 80 models. They found that the TheraBand Pro Series SCP Exercise Ball, which costs $46.25, is the best exercise ball for most people. This ball is made of sturdy and flexible plastic. It has a supportive seat and a plug that provides a tight seal. The ball comes in diameters of 26 centimeters, 55 cm, and 75 cm. It also comes in blue, red, green, and yellow.
An exercise ball chair can be a great alternative to a standard chair. It is still very important to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day and to take short breaks to walk around. 

It is easy to quickly adopt new trends, which is why doing research ahead of time is always important. Using an exercise ball chair in place of your typical work chair can improve your core and posture while toning your muscles. However, despite these wonderful benefits, it’s still important to take regular breaks to exercise your legs. Sitting all day, regardless of the chair type, is bad for the back, neck, and legs. If you give yourself the breaks your body needs by standing and walking around, you’ll be better able to reap the benefits that an exercise ball chair can provide. 

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