Exercise Balls As Office Chairs: Is Sitting On A Ball Of Air A Good Idea?

Boing, boing, boing, boing… holding on grimly to the two rubber antennae as you bounce around the garden or beach, whooping with excitement on that toy bouncing ball. Inevitably you fall off course, never mind and you quickly jump back on and start again.

Did you ever have one of those bouncy balls as a kid? I know I did and yet I never imagined exercise balls might be used one day by people as office chairs.

What is an exercise ball chair?

exercise ball chair

Evolution Ball Chair

 

Exercise balls have been around for many years now and they are popular with people who want to keep fit and toned.

They are very resilient and extremely easy to use, you just need to inflate them and then you're all set.

Some people just use the ball on its own as a chair, however I don't think that's a good idea.

If you plan to use one, it's best go for a proper exercise ball chair and these days they are very popular with office workers.

Why have they taken off and what persuades people to use them
I think the biggest reason they are so popular as office seats is mainly down to the fact that some people are heartily fed up with the discomfort of their office chair. This is almost always due to the fact that they have only ever used cheap crappy chairs and so assume that all chairs are uncomfortable. They read about how wonderful ball chairs are and all the healthy benefits and decide to take the plunge.

Is an exercise ball a healthy office seat alternative?
Many people switching to a ball chair do so because they believe it is a healthier way to sit. However, the benefits of sitting on one and the health advantages of using it as a means of exercise, tend to become blurred.
Sitting on an exercise ball alone is not advisable because it requires you full attention in keeping balanced. As soon as your concentration lapses you may very well find yourself on the deck. This is particularly true when first getting used to one.

If you really like the idea of an exercise ball chair, much better to choose one that includes a frame as it has a number of benefits.

Advantages of a ball chair

  • They are very simple to use you only need inflate it to suit your body size
  • Cost effective and generally much cheaper than a good office chair
  • Very resilient and can take heavy users who may weigh 350lbs or more
  • Safe as an office chair provided it is the sort made for use as a chair
  • The ball can be removed and used as a means of exercise

Disadvantages of a ball chair

  • Some users have stability problems with them especially at first
  • Need to build up your core muscles for prolonged use
  • It can be difficult to maintain good back posture on models without back supports
  • Maneuverability can be more difficult than a conventional office chair
  • Many ergonomists are deeply skeptical about their benefits

Is an exercise ball a good choice as an office chair?
As you have seen there are advantages and disadvantages in using an exercise ball as your office chair. A ball on its own is not a good idea, it just isn't stable enough or practical in use. However, when you go for a proper ball chair with its own frame they can make good office seats. Best to go for one with castors, arms and a back because you'll find it a lot of easier to use.

And bear in mind, it may well take some time for your core muscles to build up. So be patient and get used to it gradually by sitting in it for short periods to begin with. After all, you don't want one of those boing, boing, bang moments from childhood, office floors and desk edges can be quite unforgiving.

Further reading
Many ergonomists don't recommend using ball chairs, you can read about their reasons here. And if you want to know more about what's available here's where you can find some reviews of ball chairs.

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Discover 50 Simple Techniques for Staying Fit While Stuck at Your Desk

Here's a great resource I came across recently 50 Simple Techniques for Staying Fit While Stuck at Your Desk which contains links to a wide selection of ideas for keeping fit when working in the office.

The site includes 50 useful links under 3 broad headings. General Techniques for Office Fitness covers sites with advice and tips on exercising in the office as well as some sites advising on healthy eating when stuck in an office.

The next category, Best Tools for Office Fitness covers things like Ball Chairs, Exercise Tools, Chairs and Back Supports.

Finally there is a Videos section with links to show you how to exercise, as well as Yoga and Pilates routines for the office, even how to massage away a headache.

There is a total of 50 links to some excellent sites and each link comes with a brief summary explaining what the site is all about.

All in all these Office Fitness Ideas will provide you with an excellent compilation of useful sites to explore on the area of healthy office working.

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What Do People Really Think About Their Office Chair?

Would you give your office chair the thumbs up? Does it make you feel happy, unhappy, comfortable, uncomfortable, is it worn out or broken? I set out to find the answers on what people really felt about their office chair.

I needed valuable topical, interesting and spontaneous opinions which captured just how people thought about their office chair as they are working in it. I decided the ideal way to investigate this would be through social media comments.

So, I analyzed key posts on the topic over a one month period. I discarded all the usual laugh at me stuff like chair races, running over toes, cats sleeping on chairs and worse, as they didn't really contribute to how people felt about their office seat and was able to glean some great takeaways about what mattered most.

In all I discovered 165 relevant posts which were then separated into 5 broad categories and are listed below together with the percentage each category represented of the total comments.

Category Total % Of Total
New Chairs 52 31.50%
Advice On Chairs 39 23.60%
Pain Problems 32 19.40%
Shopping & Buying 31 18.80%
Ball Chairs 11 6.70%

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In the second part of this article we get down to the key issues of what people had to say about their office chairs, good and bad. Look out for this next week.

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Find Out If A Ball Chair Is Right For You

Maybe you've wondered whether a Ball Chair is right for you, although they're generally fairly cheap you don't want to find that it doesn't work for you.

Well, there is a simple and inexpensive way to find out, ball chairs are all basically based on an inflatable exercise ball.

You will find that you can pick up an exercise ball for less than $15 on sites like Amazon, so for a small outlay I suggest buying one to evaluate if it's right for you, choose a 650 mm diameter ball.

There are some who actually suggest using an exercise ball as a chair, but I wouldn't recommend this for long term use.

However, it's a great way to test the concept for a small outlay. Start by sitting on it for short periods of time and see how you get on, you'll need to learn how to balance on it properly and if you discover you can manage it OK , then a full Ball Chair should be suitable for you.

You can find reviews of Ball Chairs here.

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Should I Get A Ball Chair?

There's a lot of interest these days in alternative seating like Ball Chairs.

Ball Chairs are great for improving your sitting posture as they make you sit dynamically, you can't just slob around on one, as you'll likely end up on the floor!

Whilst some use them as their main chair, a lot of people find they have difficulty in sitting all day on a Ball Chair. This is highly likely to be the case for those trying to use an exercise ball as a chair.

So, it's probably best to look on a ball chair as an additional seat that you use for part of the day to give your body relief and variation from your normal seating position.

I'd recommend that you keep your existing chair and see how you get on with your Ball Chair, that way you can either use it full time or occasionally depending on how you find it.

I suggest that you go for a proper Ball Chair rather than an exercise ball, you can find further details on popular ball chairs here.

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BalanceBall® Ergonomic Ball Chair

BalanceBall SeatBall chairs continue to be a popular alternative to conventional office seating, people who have back problems often find relief in this alternative form of seating.

Although, I've covered a number of different models in the Stools and Ball Chairs part of the main website, the BalanceBall® is one that I have yet to consider.

It works on the same principle as other models of Ball chair in that it encourages you to sit healthily, that is “active sitting” you won't doze off in this type of seat it's designed to keep your back active and healthy.

The chair is available online for Gaiam.com and Amazon.

I'll be adding a full review of the product to the Ball Chair review section of the site shortly.

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