Stability balls come in a variety of sizes from 45 to 75cm in diameter and are flexible, air-filled balls that can be used for a variety of exercises. Stability balls are normally made of puncture-resistant and anti-burst plastic for added user safety and are strong enough to support even the heaviest user. Exercising with a stability ball has a number of benefits.
Defined as the ability to keep your center of mass over your base of support, balance is a skill you use daily. Having good balance can make many everyday tasks easier and is an important factor in most sports. Because the stability ball wobbles and moves when you use it, your equilibrium is challenged which, over time, can result in enhanced balance. Improved balance is especially important for people who are at risk of suffering falls, such as the elderly.
Moving more than one limb at a time requires coordination, and many stability ball exercises involve multiple joint movements. Improving coordination is important for most sports, and will also make many daily activities more fluid and easier to perform.
With so many exercises to choose from, stability ball training need never be repetitive. You can use the stability ball on its own or in conjunction with other equipment, such as dumbbells, pulleys or medicine balls. You can exercise your whole body effectively using a stability ball–either on its own or with other training apparatus.
The stability ball wobbles and moves when you use it, and this instability challenges the core muscles as they have to stabilize to counteract this movement in virtually every exercise. By tensing the core muscles to minimize movement of the ball, the abs and lower back are involved indirectly in many stability ball exercises and, as a result get an effective workout. You can also perform effective core-specific exercises, including stability ball crunches, variations of the plank exercise, the stability ball jack knife, all of which will overload the core muscles, resulting in an increase in strength.
Because it is light, the stability ball is a very convenient exercise tool for people on the move or for people who don’t want large, heavy pieces of gym equipment lying around the house. You can deflate stability balls for transport or storage, which is something you can’t do with a traditional exercise bench. In addition, stability balls are less expensive than many other less versatile pieces of exercise equipment, making them excellent value.
Exercisers who regularly train with a stability ball often mention that exercises are fun to do. The variety of exercises available, coupled with the unusual sensation of performing movements on the ball, combine to make workouts entertaining, enjoyable and effective.
About this Author
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. Also a lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a major contributor for Ultra-FIT magazine and has been involved in fitness for 22 years. Other than a five-year service in the Royal Marines, Dale has always worked in health and fitness and never intends leaving.