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Exercise Balls and Exercise Bands

Exercise Balls are Fun and Easy to Use

     One effective tool for building core strength is the exercise ball. Physical therapists have used them for years, but fitness experts now know it's one of the best ways to strengthen the abs and back and increase stability. Here's what you need to know about choosing and using an exercise ball.

Selecting an Exercise Ball

     Choose the Exercise Ball that is right for you based on your height and what you intend to use it for.  When sitting on the ball, your thighs should be parallel or a little above parallel to the floor, with your knees level or a little below the height of your hips.  A ball used for exercise should be firm.  A ball you will sit on should be softer.  You should never need to inflate the exercise ball above the maximum diameter if you have selected the correct size ball.

Up to 5' 2" (Up to 1.6 m) 45 cm (18") 55 cm (21 1/2")
5' 2" to 5' 8" (1.6 m to 1.75 m) 55 cm (21 1/2") 65 cm (25 1/2")
5' 8" to 6' 2" (1.75 m to 1.9 m) 65 cm (25 1/2") 75 cm (29 1/2")
Over 6' 2" (Over 1.9 m) 75 cm (29 1/2") 85 cm (33")



Exercise Balls and Exercise Ball Exercises

    What makes an exercise ball so uniquely effective? It works multiple muscles at one time while forcing your body to balance itself. This creates a very effective and challenging workout. For example, lying on a bench to perform tricep extensions is a good exercise but itís limited to working primarily just the triceps. However, perform that same move on a stability ball and you have created an unstable environment. Additional muscles are activated that work to keep you balanced on the exercise ball. That means you are now working harder and essentially getting more bang for your buck while not increasing your exercise time.

    So, if you havenít already gotten on the "exercise ball", itís time to give it a try. You may think that your workout already provides everything you need but chances are you are focusing the majority of your exercise time on the lower body. It is essential to concentrate fitness time on your core, which is responsible for stabilizing the rest of your body. Having a strong core improves your performance in all activities, not just exercise but also daily activities like carrying groceries. The ball can help improve your posture, balance, and core strength. Virtually every exercise performed on the ball works your core area. And, yes, it can even help you get that sought-after six-pack!

   Before you try out the exercise ball be sure to choose the right size and firmness. The harder the exercised ball the more difficult the exercise move will be. Therefore, beginners should probably choose an exercise ball that is softer (e.g. not overly inflated). Also, it is important to choose the right size based on your height. The exersize ball manufacturer or your fitness center can provide height guidelines. Check this chart for help.

    As previously mentioned, the exercise ball can be used for a total body workout. With the exercise ball you can work your legs, arms, chest, back, abdominals and you can even get a cardio workout by doing such moves as sitting jumping jacks. Below are a few examples of the types of exercises that can be done with the stability ball.

Oblique Twist:

   Begin lying with exercise ball resting under your back.  Place hands behind head for support.  Using your abdominal muscles slowly raise up lifting your shoulder blades off of the ball and rotate left shoulder toward right hip.  Do not strain neck by pulling on it with hands.  Keep elbows out to your side.  Return to starting position and repeat then switch sides.

Chest Fly:

   Lie across the exercise ball with your head and shoulders supported on the exercise ball and your legs bent with heals about two feet from ball. Extend arms overhead with palms facing away from you. Slowly separate your arms in a circular motion and bend your elbows slightly as lower your arms down and rotate your palms to face each other. Return to start position and repeat.

Squat Against Wall:

   Lean your back against a exercise ball that is placed against a wall and stand with your feet hip-width apart and about a foot away from the wall. Keep your back in a straight position. Bend your knees and let the ball roll up your back until your knees bend to about a 90 degree angle. Keep your knees behind your toes as you bend. Return to start position and repeat.

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