I Used a Stability Ball As a Chair and It Actually Helped My Back
A few weeks ago, my daily routine was catapulted into chaos when New York City shut down non-essential businesses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and my small bedroom turned into a makeshift office overnight. While I wasn’t mentally prepared for my living space to turn into a workspace, I tried to make the most of it.
I spent most of the first week nestled into my bed surrounded by pillows. At first it was exciting—like I was breaking the rules—but poor posture from slouching over my laptop quickly led to full-body aches and pain. Reluctantly, I moved to my makeup vanity, but my acrylic desk chair couldn’t compete with the comfort of ergonomic office designs. Eager for a space-efficient solution to make my setup more comfortable, I stumbled upon exercise stability balls.
While researchers disagree about the benefits of swapping your office chair for a stability ball, participants in a self-reported 2012 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene reported better posture, energy levels, and balance when using a stability ball. As a fairly affordable swap—most cost less than $20—I decided it was worth investigating.
Most stability balls come in three sizes: 55, 65, and 75 centimeters. It’s fairly easy to select a ball based on your height and, at 5’4” tall, I went for the smallest option. When the deflated ball arrived, I spent 10 minutes using the included manual hand pump to reach the perfect level of inflation.
At first, the ball takes a bit of getting used to. Its tendency to roll means you’ll have to activate your entire body—with a focus on the core and keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground— to prevent movement. Unlike a chair, it also requires good posture and balance to maintain a comfortable seated position. While I can’t pretend I’m getting a serious workout sitting on the stability ball, I definitely do feel a shift in energy.
Another benefit of using the stability ball is that it reduces strain on both my neck and my back. The stability ball puts my laptop right at my eyeline, similar to a standing desk, so I’m not hunched over trying to read my screen. Plus, it’s super easy to store when I’m feeling a change of location like the couch or kitchen table.
Best of all, it doubles as the ultimate piece of home workout equipment, perfect for conquering this strengthening routine by Jillian Michaels or a core-focused combination by Kelsey Wells. Most balls even come with a list of sweat-inducing exercises to start conquering right away.
With at-home equipment quickly selling out, I’d recommend checking out this anti-burst exercise ball from Pure Fitness. It’s made from a heavy-duty PVC that’s both BPA and latex-free. Unlike other models, it also has an anti-burst shell that slowly deflates if punctured.
Needless to say, I won’t be abandoning my new desk chair anytime soon. In fact, I even plan to bring it with me to the office once it reopens. In the meantime, I’ll be taking advantage of it’s dual work and workout benefits.
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