If you spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, then the chances are that you’re not getting enough exercise. Sitting for extended periods is bad for our health special posture and can lead to neck pain, back pain, and obesity.
Exercise balls offer an easy way to get some much-needed movement throughout the day while still being able to work on our computer or do other tasks.
How should we choose the right size ball? How much should it be inflated? How do I replace my chair with an exercise ball? These questions will be answered in this blog post!
What size Exercise Ball is best for sitting at a desk?
A general rule of thumb is if you’re shorter, you will need a smaller ball. There are some exceptions to this rule, and we will uncover them later.
Choosing a wrong-sized exercise ball can bring in more bad than good. Despite the general correspondence of height with the size of the ball, the final choice of the ball depends on the individual’s specific needs and physique. Here is a table relating the height and the size of the ball in general.
Some exceptions to this height to ball size rule are:
- If the legs of the individual are longer for their height, then one might need a larger exercise ball to avoid cramping and numbing of the legs
- If the individual has chronic back problems at present or has a history of episodes of lower back pain, then one should go for a larger ball size as it will help them release pressure on the spinal discs and lower back.
- If the purpose of the exercise ball is dual, which means for exercise and office use, one should consider sizing up the ball as a larger ball offers a better range of motion for yoga and stretching.
If the size chart and exceptions are not enough to decide the perfect size of the exercise ball for you, then you can take help from your old office chair that you are replacing with the ball. Measure the height of the desk chair from the floor to the top of the seat. This will be the size of the ball you need. If the measured height falls between two ball sizes, opt for the larger size.
How to replace your desk chair with an exercise ball?
Transitioning from using an office desk chair to sitting on an exercise ball should be a gradual process. As the transition is tough and you want to avoid throwing out your old furniture too soon, you need patience. Take your time and build up the habit before completely changing things up by gradually switching seating materials.
Sitting on an exercise ball (even if the size is perfect) can be uncomfortable initially, and you might want to give up the idea after just two minutes of sitting. But as you endure the initial discomfort(since you are habituated to the chair), you will start feeling accessible with the ball. You can follow the following steps to get comfortable with the exercise ball.
- Start with using the ball for a couple of hours for the first week.
- If you feel easy with the transition, increasing the duration of sitting on an exercise ball for a couple of days a week.
- As you build the correct posture and balance required with the ball, you can increase the frequency of days.
Remember, you should be able to change the size of the ball if you are not comfortable with it. So, make sure you get a ball with an exchange or return warranty.
How much should the exercise ball be inflated?
Here are the steps for inflating the exercise ball to its recommended size:
- First, you need to know the size of the exercise ball you need for ultimate comfort. You can reference the recommended size on the box or measure the height of the seat of your task chair from the floor. This should be the final size of your exercise ball when fully inflated.
- The exercise ball should be inflated to 80 percent of its diameter initially. You can make a mark on a wall or ask a friend or family for help with the measurement while you pump air into the ball.
- Allow the ball to rest for 24 hours and allow the ball to stretch completely.
- Come back after 24 hours and inflate the ball to its full diameter. You can leave the ball for another 24 hours to see if any more stretching is due in the ball.
- After that, see if the diameter has changed; if not, then you can start using the ball. Else, you can inflate to its full diameter again and then start using the ball.
- Even if the ball seems capable of holding more air, don’t inflate it beyond the pencil mark. The ball will get compressed later when you sit on it. That is why the balls need to be loose.
➔ Inflating the ball beyond the diameter suggested on the packaging or the height you measured will create the risk of bursting the ball and developing havoc. This can be a severe issue for people with a heart condition as the burst will be loud and out of nowhere.
➔ Exercise balls are high endurance inflated balloons. So there is always the risk of air leakage or bursting. You can also slip off the ball if the surface is too smooth. This can be a hazardous purchase. So, it would help if you got an exercise ball made up of high-quality rubber or other material, and the surface is anti-slip.
Pros and Cons of using an Exercise ball for sitting at a desk
The advantages of using an exercise ball for sitting at a desk in the office are more perceived ones rather than scientifically proven ones. There are certain direct studies and some related research on using exercise balls and their benefits in the workplace environment as a replacement for the task chair. And the positive ones converge on the following beneficial outcomes:
➔An exercise ball can serve the dual purpose of sitting and doing some light stretching exercises. If you can use one for sitting, you can use the same for a session of stretching and yoga at home. They can be deflated and thus portable.
➔ There are a couple of case studies that verify calorie burn and activation of lower body muscles due to sitting on an exercise ball at the desk
➔ The user tends to have increased energy and improved posture due to sitting on an exercise ball. Since there is no back support to lean on, the breathing is improved as well.
➔ Moreover, the balance and the user’s stability increase as they get accustomed to sitting on exercise balls.
The cons are the missing proofs of several claims that faithful exercise ball aficionados make. It is agreeable that there are certain benefits, but there are other claims that sound rather preposterous.
➔ Core activation is a shaky averment as certain studies dismiss the claim, and few findings prove it. Some other studies suggest no difference between using a desk chair and an exercise ball for core activation.
➔ Though praised as “active sitting,” the calorie burned during the use of an exercise ball is insignificant or fractional. It doesn’t help dodge the issues one might face while sitting on a task chair for long hours.
➔ One thing that is bound to happen due to prolonged sitting is back pain. And there is no alternative to it. So, no matter how ergonomic or active sitting on an exercise ball sounds, one has to stand up, walk, and stretch the conventional way to avoid severe back pain.
➔ To achieve the proper form of active sitting, one should sit on a good ergonomic office task chair and an exercise ball of appropriate size intermittently. Don’t forget to include the stand-up and walk breaks in between.
➔ The perfect size of the exercise ball is utterly essential to get the maximum benefits from it. Make sure the quality of the ball is a good one, and the ball is slip-proof.
➔ The advantages of using an exercise ball are subjective as per the opinions encountered on the internet. So you need to give it a try and see for yourself if the ball is any better for you than your old pal task chair.
➔ If you’re a new user of an exercise ball, make sure to create a safe surrounding. There are chances of falling or slipping due to instability. Sitting near walls will allow you to have some support for incidents like that.