Exercise Ball Chair: Pros and Cons | Standing desks, working from your bed, and yes, even sitting on exercise balls. These are some of the newest trends in the modern work setting, likely as a result of 80% of Americans experiencing back pain.
Exercise balls are an extremely popular piece of equipment in gyms, yoga classes, and other fitness programs and facilities for their core stabilizing properties. They’re also making their way to an office near you! Let’s talk about the pros and cons of using an exercise ball chair at work or at home.
Benefits Of An Exercise Ball Chair
Keep in mind, the trend of using exercise balls for office seating is relatively new. This means that the science is not 100% up-to-date on the long-term effects of sitting on an exercise ball for several hours a week. Exercise ball workouts have been extremely popular for many years now, and they undoubtedly have great benefits when it comes to promoting stability and core strength.
However, there is little research on the benefits of sitting in an exercise ball for 10 to 30 hours a week over a long period of time. Therefore, the benefits are mostly anecdotal.
One of the biggest benefits exercise ball chairs are said to offer is improving your posture. How does it do this?
Well, the back of a regular chair is supposed to promote posture, but it doesn’t stop most of us from slouching over for a big part of our day. The idea behind the exercise ball chair is to force you to sit up straight and maintain your balance on the ball.
Balance & Stability
The whole point of using exercise balls in your workouts is to promote balance or stability, and the same principle applies to when you use them as chairs. The idea is that over a long period of time where you are forced to sit in a stable position on an unstable object, you will build up the stability and endurance that your core needs to maintain proper posture and balance throughout your daily activities.
Burns Additional Calories
This one you can bet your money on without any research. When you are forced to sit on unstable seating throughout the day and adjust your posture regularly, that extra movement and stability will ultimately burn more calories throughout the day.
However, there is no precise way to measure this, as it will depend on your current physical shape, the size of the ball, your weight, the duration and intervals you sit in, as well as other factors.
Risks Of An Exercise Ball Chair
It is commonly believed that an air-filled exercise ball will provide all of these supposed benefits that we mentioned. However, this misconception poses some risks to your muscles, posture, and health.
The most important one on the list is the risk of injury. You’ve probably seen funny Vine compilations or “fail” videos that involve exercise balls, and that’s simply because they’re big and bouncy. Those are two qualities that tend to lead to more “fails”.
Fails are funny until somebody gets actually injured, and cramped office space is a perfect situation for that to happen. If there are a lot of cubicles or a lot of foot traffic, the risk of somebody not seeing the ball and falling on it is high.
Falling from it is only one part of the potential injury. Bouncing off of it is the other, whether it’s a person or an object. A large sphere, like an exercise ball, makes the bouncing effect rather unpredictable as well. A computer monitor falls off of a desk, hits the ball, and launches into any number of items or people.
Exercise balls in a gym setting tend to pose less of a risk. People are aware there is equipment that can injure them and are on higher alert because of it. However, if you’re just walking around the open floor of your office space, you don’t expect to see workout equipment everywhere you step.
On top of that, over 3 million exercise balls have been recalled for safety concerns. Even so, injuries aren’t the only safety concern.
No Back Support
We understand that’s kind of the point, but when you’re sitting anywhere for a long period of time, especially where you spend your most time, you need back support. If you find a way to sit comfortably on the ball without keeping your back up straight, which is likely, you will ultimately damage your back and your entire posterior chain.
Overall, back support will likely do more for your posture (if you use it right) than having none. On top of that, there’s no arm support. If you’re reading or typing something for a long period of time, you may find your shoulders getting rather fatigued.
Taking Away Concentration
When you’re at work, you’re trying to get things done. If you’re constantly focused on finding the right position, maintaining your posture, and your levels of discomfort or exhaustion, you will likely be very distracted. This will not bode well for your standing at your job, your overall performance, or even your own satisfaction on the job.
Honestly, the science isn’t in on the benefits of the exercise ball chair but there are some serious risks, especially if you’re prone to poor posture. Overall, it’s probably best to avoid sitting on an exercise ball for long periods of time and keep these balls at the gym. Either way, stay up to date with our latest health and fitness news and keep the gym equipment where it belongs!