Getting on the ball helps burn more calories, tone muscles while at work, home

| May 21, 2010 | 0 Comments

Karen Hawkins
Defense Commissary Agency

Maintaining core control with a exercise ball also promotes, improves poor posture, balance 

Karen Hawkins, Defense Commissary Agency dietitian, sits on her exercise ball at DeCA headquarters. Because exercise balls come in different sizes, she said it is important to choose one that is right for your height. When sitting on the ball, the hips should be level or slightly higher than the knees. (Courtesy of Defense Commissary Agency)FORT LEE, Va. — May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and a great time to start exercising or adding a little variety to the usual physical activity routine.

People with a desk job or who spend a lot of time in front of a computer might want to try something different to burn more calories, like sitting on an exercise ball while working at the computer. 

A 2008 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology compared energy use of people doing clerical work while sitting in an office chair, sitting on an exercise ball or standing up. 

The study found that study participants burned 4.1 calories more per hour — a 6 percent boost — when they were either standing or sitting on the exercise ball as compared to sitting in the regular office chair. No difference was noted between standing up and sitting on the exercise ball. However, if there is a history of back problems, it is a good idea to check with a doctor before sitting on an exercise ball for any time.

As exercise balls come in different sizes, individuals should choose one that is right for their height. For proper form, when sitting on the ball, hips should be level or slightly higher than the knees. This positioning will help with maintaining comfortable control while using the ball. 

People may feel a little wobbly sitting on an exercise ball the first time, which is normal as the surface is unstable, since the body is constantly changing its center of gravity in order to remain balanced and still. Give it time; it gets easier. 

Start off slowly with sitting for 15-30 minutes a day, and try increasing the time by 30-minute increments every few weeks. 

Over time, sitting on the ball can help tone muscles as all the core muscles, including back, abdominals, gluteals and leg muscles are working to keep the person stable. Some consider it a mini workout, as the muscles are doing all the work. 

Sitting on the ball can help improve posture as the body assumes an upright position. If a person starts to slouch, it may be time to move or sit in a chair for awhile.

For a little more activity that adds up over time, park the car at the back of the parking lot at work, at school and at the commissary.

For more information about making healthy choices, visit Ask the Dietitian at www.commissaries.com

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