Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Benefits of Using a Stability Ball in Your Training

If there is one piece of equipment you can use in almost any form of exercise, it is the stability ball. The stability ball, or exercise ball, is extremely versatile and can be used for everything from strengthening and toning, to flexibility, to pain relief and posture improvement. It can be used in yoga, Pilates, weight lifting, cardio, and more. It's a great tool to have on hand, no matter what form of exercise you prefer.

What Is a Stability Ball?

An exercise ball allows a wide range of exerci...
An exercise ball allows a wide range of exercises to be performed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is a large and inflatable ball used as exercise equipment. Despite being air-filled, it is generally heavy-duty and often able to hold 600 to 700 pounds of weight. It is comfortable and gives good support, and it's fun and bouncy!

This exercise tool is also sometimes called as the physioball or the Swiss Ball.

The good thing about using the stability ball is it reduces the perception of ‘working’ in training, especially for beginners. It gives some element of ‘play’, and it adds some fun and excitement as you move on to more advanced movements and techniques.

Another good point about the ball is that it can be used by anybody. No particular fitness level is required. It is very portable and light weight, easy to bring along even when traveling - you can pack it up, then just inflate it when you get to your destination. It is also rather inexpensive compared to other exercise equipment and it may last for a very long time if you take good care of it.

How Stability Balls Came About

The use of the stability balls for training can be traced to rehabilitation. As early as the 1900’s, physical therapists have been using balls in addressing the neurological disorders of their patients.

Then, in the early 1960’s, Aquilino Cosani, an Italian toy maker, made a stability ball and sold it as equipment, known then as the ‘Gymnastik.’ Two decades later, Cosani started a company called Gymnic and became the major supplier of the stability ball to most rehabilitation programs and centers.

The ball then shifted from the rehabilitation to the athletic arena in the 90’s. It was used by professional athletes to condition the body. From then on, the ball became very prominent in the fitness community.

At present, medical specialists and fitness professionals often recommend the use of the stability ball. Not only does regular use of the ball help prevent many physical problems, it also helps prevent them from occurring in the first place.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Stability Ball?

The stability ball is a great tool to improve the strength of the abs and the lower back. It also improves the functional strength, balance and flexibility of the body, as seen below.

1. Proper Alignment & Posture
Using the ball during training will test the body to make use of the different muscle groups to maintain proper balance. The dynamic movements used during exercise will improve the natural motor reflexes of the body as different muscles are utilized in movement, especially the ones that are not usually used. The challenge posed by the ball is to maintain balance. As one strives to maintain proper balance on the ball, the alignment of body parts is also improved.

English: an exercise of abs
An ab exercise on the ball. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. Great Abs
For people working out to achieve great abs, use of the ball can definitely target the abdominal area. The abs and the back muscles are simultaneously moved as you work on your balance, and all of the different abdominal muscles work together to maintain balance, which means you're hitting all of the important muscles at once.

3. Muscle Strength and Endurance
The stability ball can help in alleviating any back pain and preventing it in the future. As all the major muscle groups are exercised, muscle tone, strength and endurance are also improved. Thus it gives the body flexibility, stability and strength.

4. Core Stability
The core muscles are the major muscles that help stabilize and support all of the body's daily movements. The core is made up of back and the deep abdominal muscles. With the ball, no matter how ‘deep’ or ‘into the core’ these muscles are, they are still exercised because of the number of different muscles that are challenged to maintain balance. Even just sitting on the ball while working on the computer can tone your abs and strengthen your core muscles!

5. Stretching
The ball is a good companion during stretching exercises. It helps you easily move into and move out of different stretching positions, without putting too much pressure on joints.

6. Losing Weight
Of course, with all the good benefits of using the ball, you will not miss out on the aspect of losing weight. With a number of regular exercises that can be done with the stability ball, using this ball in everything from cardio to muscle toning helps with weight loss.

Health is definitely your most important asset. Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet are some of the most important things you can do for your health. But you can also have fun doing these things, and the stability ball is a great tool to have some fun with while getting fit.

Grab A Stability Ball and Work Out:
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