What’s one of the latest must-have accoutrements for the office? Hint: It’s not a desk, computer or chair (well, not exactly). It’s a stability ball used for “active sitting.”
Inflatable stability balls have been used for decades by physical therapists and more recently in gyms to help improve posture and balance, and strengthen the body’s core. Now, stability balls are popping up in office settings. They’re not only therapeutic but also fashionable. A New York Times article described “souped-up” stability balls that cost upward of $100, as well as covers for the balls crafted in textured terry cloth, multihued faux velvet and imported silk, with prices ranging up to $350 or more.
But you could pay much less. We got this Gold’s Gym Anti-Burst Fitness Ball for about $19 at Walmart.
If you’re not sold yet, consider the study by Indiana University ergonomics experts who found that using the nondominant hand to reach for things like a cup of water while sitting on a stability ball results in different firing patterns in the muscles of the legs to stabilize the body. “It’s a learning effect. When you use your dominant hand, your firing patterns are more established, even in the lower body, to stabilize the movement. Interestingly, when reaching with the nondominant hand, muscle recruitment appears to be different,” researcher Kelly Jo Baute said.
Regardless of the hand you use, working from a stability ball will be a workout for your back and abs. So take it slowly and work up to longer periods of use. Before long, you’ll be actively sitting with the best of them.