Using an exercise ball as an office chair is a good alternative. Although it’s not all positive, the pros do hold a lot of weight. Sitting on an exercise ball is better than an office chair because the exercise ball increases trunk muscle activity. Increased trunk activity, in turn, improves your posture and gets rid of discomfort resulting from sitting on an office chair all day.
Although an exercise ball allows exercise for your trunk muscles, some people still end up slumping. Additionally, sitting on an exercise ball increases the load-bearing on your lower back. The result is discomfort and pain. While sitting on a traditional office desk for long hours has numerous negative impacts on your health, there’s no concrete proof that an exercise ball is 100% beneficial.
Is an exercise ball better than a desk chair?
Undisputedly, an exercise ball helps to burn calories. According to research, those who work while sitting on an exercise ball burn four extra calories hourly. In this regard, the exercise ball would perform two purposes. A comfortable medium to sit on and a way to burn calories as you work.
While sitting on a desk chair for extended periods wears you out and wrecks your sitting posture, sitting on an exercise ball isn’t any better. It may work well at first, but prolonged sitting contributes to slumping and poor sitting posture. Exercise balls help produce trunk muscle activity and motion (33% more than desk chairs). The downside is that sitting on an exercise ball causes spinal shrinkage.
Advantages of an exercise ball office chair
Some desk chairs are relatively comfortable. Mainly because they have an armrest and a backrest. However, some aspects of the exercise ball office chair help your body in one way or another. In a typical office setup, employees must sit for up to nine hours. In some cases, work hours go beyond that. A comfortable sitting medium is necessary to prevent health and posture issues.
Here are the benefits of an exercise ball office chair:
Burn extra calories
Most people want to remain fit. However, it may get difficult to incorporate enough gym hours into an already hectic schedule. This is where an exercise ball office chair comes in. If appropriately used, an exercise ball office chair helps burn four extra calories in an hour.
Since people sit for more than an hour in an office, the accumulative calories make a massive difference in weight loss and maintenance. Keep in mind that an exercise ball needs proper use. If you are a trainer and your client needs to switch from desk chair to exercise ball office chair, ensure they do the following;
- Keep the knees hip-width apart
- Ensure both feet are flat on the ground
- Straighten the neck and spine and roll back the shoulders
- Keep the abs activated by making circular side to side movements while seated
Relieve back pain
Plainly sitting on an exercise ball will not alleviate back pain. If you take the time to do a few stretches as you sit on the ball, it will work wonders for your back. Stretching helps get rid of back pain in the long run. Exercises such as side stretches, spine rotation, or bridges are essential in relieving back pain.
Sitting on an exercise ball office chair forces you to increase the trunk muscle activity. This increased activity prompts the body to deal with discomforts such as back pain. If you have a severe back or spinal condition, it’s vital to check in with your doctor before undertaking such exercises. A manageable situation can quickly turn fatal.
When slouching over on your desk, the lungs become shortened. That posture limits the amount of air you breathe in. The body is forced to maintain a proper sitting posture with an exercise ball. As long as the muscles are activated and you use the exercise ball properly, the breathing improves.
Breathing better has several benefits for the body. Such benefits may not be visible instantly, but it shows in your productivity. Proper breathing slows the heart rate and relaxes the body. Besides, you also conserve the energy the body would use to transport oxygen while slouching.
Breathing better increases airflow into the body. Good airflow consequently improves concentration and quietens the sympathetic nervous system in your brain, preventing anxiety.
Increase core strength
Exercise balls have no back or arm support. Therefore, your body automatically has to compensate and support itself. The need to compensate is a good thing because the core muscles automatically become stronger. Sitting upright on an exercise ball activates the abdominal muscles, obliques, and many other muscles in your body.
Promote good balance
Unlike sitting on an office desk chair, sitting on an exercise ball requires work. A slight change in posture could send you sprawling to the ground or sliding off the ball. Unknowingly, the body starts to learn positions to balance on the ball. As a result, you improve body balance.
Disadvantages of an exercise ball office chair
Desk chairs are being phased out because of their detrimental impacts on posture and productivity. Although the exercise ball office chair is a good substitute, there are a few downfalls to note. These aspects might be a reason to avoid the exercise ball altogether, but it is vital to weigh both sides before throwing out the idea of using an exercise ball as an office chair.
Provides no back or arm support
If you are not accustomed to sitting on an exercise ball, it will strain your body. An eight-hour workday requires comfort, and unlike ergonomic chairs, an exercise ball won’t offer any support whatsoever. Employees get uncomfortable, and that affects productivity.
Typing on the keyboard becomes a task. Besides, performing desk-oriented tasks becomes more strenuous than they should be.
Sitting on a ball has its perks. The possibility of hurting yourself as you strain to stay on the ball will make you tired, eventually. Exhaustion goes beyond physical since employees also experience mental fatigue.
Employees who are not in shape should try warming up to the idea of the exercise ball as an office chair. This way, they will build stamina.
As long as employees are exhausted, especially mentally, their concentration levels decrease. The more individuals use their energy to balance on an exercise ball, the more their work suffers.
Can cause accidents
Exercise balls in the workplace can cause accidents. There is a high possibility of an exercise ball rolling away and causing people to trip. The employee sitting on the ball could also fall and break something. It is better to avoid workplace lawsuits by avoiding the exercise ball office chair idea or introducing it strategically.
Tripping accidents caused by the exercise ball include broken bones, head injuries, and back and neck injuries.
The advantages may outweigh the downfalls, but it is vital to consider everything before introducing exercise balls into the workspace.
How long should you sit on an exercise ball at work?
Sitting on an office desk chair all day is highly discouraged. However, sitting for long hours, in general, is not the best for any office setup. Prolonged sitting has adverse long-term health effects such as increased diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. An exercise ball is slightly better (when you get the posture right). Switching between working while sitting and standing makes a good combination.
While at work, avoid sitting on the exercise ball for more than two hours at a time. Sitting for too long causes muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue causes a feeling of soreness in the middle and lower back. In this breath, it is vital to look for a burst-proof ball. Also, inflate it enough to prevent sinking into it.
The best arrangement would be sitting on an exercise ball for 20 minutes, then switching to an ergonomic office chair or a standing desk. Alternating sitting positions aids in boosting concentration and reduces the harmful effects of sitting for too long. After all, if you sit on an exercise ball office chair for prolonged periods, you will end up slouching over, which beats the purpose of ditching the traditional office desk chair.
- Anahad O’Connor, The New York Times: The Claim: Replacing Your Desk Chair With an Exercise Ball can Improve Your Posture
- Amy Occhipinti, M.S., AFPA Health Nutrition & Fitness: Benefits of Sitting on a Stability Ball at Work
- Jo Blood, Posture People: Sitting on a gym ball at work – The facts
- Bojana Galic, LiveStrong.Com: Why You Shouldn’t Sit on a Stability Ball All Day — and What to Do Instead