Last week, I offered you some suggestions on how to incorporate fitness into your workday. One of those was sitting on an exercise ball, a change that would work your abs and improve your balance all day long. You probably read the tip with a touch of doubt. Who would trade in their chair for a ball? And trust me; you weren’t alone. I was skeptical even as I typed. So to assuage your disbelief, and my own, I and a few coworkers spent yesterday testing the merits of an inflatable roost.
The buildup to the ball was monotonously long. I spent a good hour foot-pumping a 75 cm exercise ball. Had I thought ahead, I would have had a book in my hands so as to pass the time more quickly, but I didn’t. Therefore by the time I sat down, I was hoping for miracles. My butt wanted rewards for the sixty minutes of up and down that preceded the seat. Sadly, I didn’t get what I wanted.
I lasted two hours. The initial plop was cushy and comfy. I could feel my core strengthening as I sat, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I think my primary problem was my inability to sit normally. I don’t position myself in chairs like most people do. Within five minutes of sitting, I’m usually cross-legged or in a similar bend. I can’t even drive to the store without pulling my left foot up onto the seat. So, a ball where balance with two feet on the floor is necessary isn’t conducive to my habits. I did manage to perch in the lotus position for a while, but when I let go of the desk, I nearly cracked my head open.
The balance ball isn’t for me. However, it still could be for you, because the other testers didn’t encounter the same problems. In fact, one of them enjoyed it so much he won’t give the ball back. So if you think you can do it, pump it up, but before you do here are a few things to keep in mind:
• If you’re up and down a lot, remember that balls roll. Your seat may not be where you left it when you return.
• Proximity to necessary gadgets, such as printers and the phone, needs to be considered. You can’t maneuver as you would with a rolling desk chair. Make sure you can easily reach everything you need.
• Size matters. There’s a reason chairs are adjustable. People are different heights. Make sure you pick a ball that coincides with your length. Our 5’5” tester, the shortest of us all, had some height constraints the rest of us didn’t.
• You don’t have to use it for eight hours. You may be tired after two or four. That’s okay. You will still have gotten a nice ab workout.
• If you fidget, welcome to heaven. You can bounce and maneuver until your heart’s content, expelling all of the energy that regularly bubbles out of you.