Your Body Posture

The Pros & Cons of Using a Fitness Ball as an Office Chair

Human life has dramatically shifted compared to 50 years ago; we spend more time sitting, hunched over, or lounging on our coaches, which has resulted in a host of health complications. But thanks to the digital revolution, information is easily accessible, and we can no longer afford to be ignorant. Over the years, there’s been a lot of talk on the benefits of fitness balls as a replacement traditional office chair.

More and more people and companies are beginning to adopt a healthy work environment in the workplace for their employees. It’s now commonplace to find standing desks, fitness balls, gyms, and recreational spaces for employees in an organization.  The fitness ball has taken off as the latest strategy in place of office chairs for individuals looking to reduce discomfort, fatigue, or sitting disease.

What Is a Fitness Ball?

The fitness or stability ball is an exercise equipment used mostly in gyms to build or enhance strength, stability, and balance training. However, if you’ve been keen enough at your workplace, you might have noticed that some of your workmates are switching their traditional chairs for a fitness ball.

There are hundreds of literature pointing towards the dangers of sitting extensively and its implications on health. It’s, however, essential to familiarize yourself with the benefits and drawbacks of switching an office chair for a fitness ball.

Benefits of Using a Stability Ball

There are several benefits of using a fitness ball as an office chair. The following are the most significant benefits.

BenefitsOfUsingAStabilityBallEnhances your posture

It is possible to slouch regardless of what you are sitting on, but individuals have a much higher chance of lounging on an office chair compared to a fitness ball. When sitting on an exercise chair, to keep a good balance, you need to be in good posture. 

Slouching on a fitness ball, on the other hand, pulls your body weight forward, forcing you to lose your base and increases the chances of the ball slipping out.

Improves your core strength

Since there are almost zero benefits for your upper back and arms using a fitness ball, your body is forced to support itself. Your core muscles are what are responsible for offering this kind of support.  

When sited upright on your fitness ball, you are engaging your abdominal muscles. Sitting for extended periods will, therefore, strengthen the muscles giving them better endurance.

Promotes balance

Let’s face it, not many people today have good coordination or reflexes, and all these are as a result of living a sedentary lifestyle. In case you have problems maintaining balance, a fitness ball could significantly help you improve your coordination.

As such, without much effort, you will enhance your balance. Sitting on a fitness ball, you’ll be practicing better stability without even realizing it.

Helps burn calories

Everyone is trying to shake off some calories, and sitting on a fitness ball engages your core muscles that otherwise wouldn’t be engaged sitting on your typical office chair.  It also causes your heart rate to increase.

When your heart rate increases, you begin to burn calories. Therefore, sitting down on your fitness ball in place of your office chair, helps rev up your metabolism, making it much easier to shed off some weight.

Drawbacks of Using a Fitness Ball

Fitness balls don’t come without a few drawbacks. Here are a few disadvantages of using a fitness ball.

Fitness ball_Drawbacks Of Using A FitnessBallThe fitness ball is not compatible with most office furniture

It is essential for your comfortability that you get a fitness ball size that is compatible with the length of your legs. It is not uncommon to get a fitness ball and realize it is sitting higher than your office chair. 

If your fitness ball is higher, you will be forced to crane your neck more working on your desk computer.

Back discomfort

Sitting on your fitness ball for extended periods could cause your back to be sore. While that goes away the moment, you get off the fitness ball, continuous back sores could lead to a permanent back pain condition.

Causes exhaustion

If you have used a fitness ball before, you understand it is not a walk in the park. You need to input some effort to sit effectively on the ball. Without a little effort, you’ll fall off, and if you are not careful, you might get injured.

While this effort is welcome, especially when it comes to enhancing your core muscles, it has negative impacts as well. For starters, it causes physical exhaustion, it also leads to mental fatigue and you are prone to get distracted from your work tasks trying to balance on the ball.

Offers little to no arm and back support

One of the most significant drawbacks of using a fitness ball as an office chair is that it offers no back or arm support. Imagine an 8-hour workday with zero support on your arms and back can be exhausting!

It will not only affect your comfortability using your computer, but it also puts a lot of stress on your body, resulting in joint pain.

It can lead to accidents

Due to the complexity of sitting steady on a fitness ball, you are likely to cause an accident. The shape and design of a ball make it suitable for rolling away, which could turn into a tripping hazard. 

Fitness ball accidents are not uncommon, and some organizations have taken it upon themselves to restrict employees from using fitness balls in their premises, citing it as a workplace hazard leading to lawsuits.

Scientific Evidence of Negative Implications of Using a Fitness Ball in Place of an Office Chair

Looking over health research on switching a fitness ball for your office chair paints a bad picture. According to several studies, the fitness ball causes more problems than solutions, with most health experts advising their patients to stick to the typical office chair.

According to a study done by the Center of Research Expertise for Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders, using fitness balls in place of the office chair may increase the risk of developing lower back discomfort. It may also increase the risk of getting an injury due to the fitness ball’s unstable nature.

Another study also discovered that sitting for prolonged periods on the fitness ball doesn’t enhance or improve the level of which the user sits, but increases their comfort level.

Yet another study, found out that there is minimal difference in muscle activation profiles on each of the 14 muscles between sitting down on your office chair and the fitness ball. The calculations done on the compression and stability values showed that an individual sitting on a ball experienced zero difference in mean response values. However, the contact area of the seat-user interface was highest using the fitness ball.

Getting the Right Fitness Ball

If you are looking to get a fitness ball to enhance your posture and core muscles, you must get the right size. Choosing the wrong sizes could result in poor posture and injuries along the road.

The size of the ball must be relative to the height. Therefore, if you are between 4’8” and 5’7,” you need to get a stability ball that is 18-inches. If you are between 5’6” and 6’2” then you need to get a 22-inch fitness ball. If you are between 6’2” and 6’6”, you are better off with a 26-inch fitness ball if you are taller than 6’5” inches get a 30-inch fitness ball.

Bottomline

Switching your office chair for a fitness ball is unwise, especially if you are looking to use it over an 8-hour workday. The fatigue and exhaustion make it extremely hard to focus on your daily tasks, and if not careful, the fitness ball can be a workplace hazard.

The fitness ball, on the other hand, is a useful exercise tool, not a piece of office furniture. Use it for short periods as part of your core workout routine. For the office, choose an ergonomic chair or consider a sit-stand workstation. Taking several breaks to stand up between working on your computer will also help get your blood flowing.

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