About a quarter of people in the U.S. sit for at least eight hours a day, which has increased with remote work. Unfortunately, sitting for so long has many repercussions for our health since it has been linked to type 2 diabetes, back pain, neck pain, weakened muscles, depression, and other chronic health issues.
While most gyms have yoga balls, have you ever considered why you need one in your home or office? The right type of yoga ball is a versatile addition to your workspace. You can also use it while watching TV, talking on the phone, or working outdoors.
Sitting on a yoga ball, also known as an exercise or stability ball, offers possible relief to the bane of the modern lifestyle by allowing you to participate in active sitting. Therefore, consider replacing your desk chair at work or home with an exercise ball.
The logic behind using the exercise ball as a chair is that your deeper trunk muscles must respond to maintaining your center of gravity to help you keep your balance while sitting. These muscles, known as the multifidus and transverse abdominus become stronger, helping support spine alignment and reduce static loading.
There are several benefits of sitting on a yoga ball. These include improving posture and core strength. According to one study comparing yoga balls with desk chairs, researchers discovered that it helps enhance endurance and strength in the muscles that control forward and backward movement.
However, as with all things, one research team member, Tessa Elliott, told the Washington Post that moderation is key, meaning it’s healthier to alternate what you sit on.
1. Improved Posture
As the day passes, you may slouch even more when sitting in your office chair, causing bad posture and lower back pain. If you haven’t heard of the benefits of sitting on a yoga ball for improved posture, here’s how it helps:
- A yoga ball is not stable. Therefore, you must sit upright on it as you try to balance your body.
- The benefits of balancing the body on the yoga ball include elongating the trunk muscles and those around the spine.
- The result is a neutral spine, the term doctors and physical therapists use when referring to an excellent posture.
2. Increased Core Strength
Working from a yoga ball office chair helps engage your core muscles. Every time you move to answer the phone or reach for a file, you must use core muscles to stretch while maintaining your balance, improving your core stability and strength.
Increased core strength provides better balance and stability, and its benefits include reduced back pain, better posture, injury prevention, and better athletic performance since most sports rely on a stronger core. Sitting on a yoga ball for a few hours daily can save you some crunches.
3. Enhanced Stability and Balance
Maintaining stability and balance is critical since these prevent falls as we age. The best way to enhance stability and balance is to ensure a stronger core, one of the key benefits of sitting on a yoga ball.
The unstable surface of a yoga ball requires mindful sitting, ensuring you react to movement with your muscles. These movements strengthen your core, ensuring better stability and balance.
4. Active Sitting
Active sitting entails keeping your body busy while seated, helping to improve your posture, strengthen your core, and improve your circulation. It’s particularly important for people who work long hours behind a desk because a sedentary lifestyle can affect several areas of our health.
There are several types of active chairs and balance stools, but these all offer the same benefits as sitting on a yoga ball.
Active sitting promotes better health, and sitting on a yoga ball encourages you to make frequent position shifts. It helps burn more calories than sitting on a chair since it activates many muscles.
Additionally, while sitting on the yoga ball, you have fitness at your fingertips since you can do a mini stretch or workout while seated.
Besides building core strength, active sitting helps alleviate C-shape posture, which causes stiffness, fatigue, and muscle weakness.
5. Better Circulation
Another added benefit of sitting on a yoga chair is improved circulation. The circulatory system comprises capillaries, arteries, veins, and the heart. Its role is to transport oxygenated red blood cells to the organs, including the brain and the kidneys. Your circulatory system is also responsible for transporting the accumulated carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs, where it’s released.
Poor circulation affects the veins, making them rigid and thicker. Better circulation helps reduce inflammation and lowers the risk of circulatory diseases like strokes and heart attacks. It also assists with better digestion and ensures increased collagen production for healthier skin.
The movement needed to maintain balance on a yoga ball helps keep the blood flowing throughout the body, something that sitting on a regular office chair often hinders. Poor circulation has many adverse effects, including hardening arteries, muscles, and joints. On the other hand, the better your circulation, the more influential the blood and oxygen flow. That means your body functions benefit, including mental clarity, healing, and a healthier heart.
6. Increased Focus and Concentration
When you sit in one position, you will notice that you get tired quickly. Another of the many benefits of sitting on a yoga ball is that it encourages you to move around. Staying active creates more energy, creating increased focus and concentration. Besides being more productive at work, the movement will energize you, allowing you to do more activities after work.
7. Burn Calories While Sitting
While working, you must sit for extended hours, sometimes even eight hours a day. Burning calories while sitting on a normal office chair requires a conscious effort to stand up regularly and take a short walk or do a few stretches.
One of the many benefits of replacing your office chair with a yoga ball is that you can burn up to 350 calories daily because of the movements required to maintain your balance. The more calories you lose, the more fat you burn. If you can burn 350 calories a day, it equals losing one pound of fat within ten days. Even if you can’t lose so many calories daily, a yoga ball helps you maintain a level of fitness that an office chair can’t equal.
However, remember to use your yoga ball correctly to get all the benefits of replacing your office chair with one. Here’s how to sit correctly to burn calories:
- Keep your knees hip-width apart and both feet flat on the ground
- Roll your shoulders back, keeping them soft, and straighten your spine.
- Make sure you don’t bend your neck by adjusting the placement of your keyboard and computer so that your chin is parallel to the floor when working.
- Use slight circular or side-to-side movements with your buttocks and back, keeping your abs activated. The more you move, the more calories you will burn.
8. Versatile and Portable
Even though you can find air-filled balls in a frame, a yoga ball is the most versatile and portable of active sitting solutions.
Yoga balls have a natural give that makes them bouncy enough to encourage the right posture and movements as you maintain your balance. Keeping your feet flat on the ground is essential to help maintain your balance and the right posture.
Tips for using a yoga ball safely:
- Limit the time to 2 hours before taking a break from sitting on the yoga ball to avoid muscle fatigue and lower back pain.
- Inflate the ball with enough air to ensure you are not sinking into it when seated. The ideal position is to perch on the ball.
- Buy the right size yoga ball for your body. Check that your feet are flat on the floor and your hips bent when choosing it. Ensure your knees have a height lower than your hips when sitting.
- Set up your workstation properly if you want to use it with a yoga ball. For example, you cannot have a standing desk and may need to change some of your equipment, like a keyboard or mouse.
Preferring a yoga ball to a chair may improve posture, relieve back pain, or even prevent it. How does it help? Travis Gage, CPO of Fountain Orthotics and Prosthetics, told Greatist: “To stay balanced and upright on a yoga ball, you need to engage your entire core, meaning that a yoga ball can activate all your postural muscles. These include the deep muscles in your abdomen, pelvis, and back, ensuring a proper posture.
Some case studies show that a yoga ball relieves lower back pain, but more research is still needed to show the full benefits. Conscious thought will help you maintain a good posture, while it’s also best not to use a yoga ball for more than two hours at a time.
Use your yoga ball for sitting, but remember to get up now and then to help your muscle strength and posture. Additionally, use it to incorporate some exercises to ensure you get the full benefits of sitting on a yoga ball.