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A Swiss Fitness Breakthrough

Posted Apr 16 2010 8:33am

A few weeks ago, ETR Insider featured a brief article about the fitness benefits of using a stability ball.  

I use a stability ball all the time myself. In fact, my coworker Sarah Snoots and I often use a stability ball to tone our cores while at work. After just one week of sitting on the ball a few hours a day, I noticed a significant difference in my stomach. My abs felt stronger. I also see a noticeable difference in my posture.

“I feel much more alert when I’m sitting on the stability ball,” Sarah told me. “No more post-lunch ‘food coma’!”

Here’s a photo of Sarah at her desk right here in the Total Health Breakthroughs office.

After we ran the article, we got multiple emails asking for more information about stability balls. I spoke with several health experts to see if we could track down more information. The team at Natural Cast Products gave me an excellent article to send to you. It goes a step further from merely sitting on a ball while at your desk.

In today’s issue of THB, you’ll read about why the stability ball is an ideal exercise tool. You’ll find out why you’ll get better results with the ball than simply exercising on a hard surface. And you’ll learn three specific exercises you can do at home, for only about ten bucks.

Enjoy and let us know what you think.

To Your Best Health,

Maria Dolgova
Associate Publisher
Total Health Breakthroughs

In the 1960’s a real breakthrough was discovered in physical therapy. 

Large inflatable balls were first used with patients who had neurological or orthopedic disorders in Europe. Then, practitioners in Switzerland discovered that by having rehabilitation patients use the stability ball in a variety of exercises, they were able to make huge improvements.  While originally known as a Swiss ball it is now more commonly referred to as a stability ball.

With the success that the stability ball has had in the world of clinical rehabilitation, athletic trainers, coaches, personal trainers and physical education teachers have begun to integrate them into their programs.   Now they are the new craze in the world of athletic and functional conditioning.  

One of the main reasons that the stability ball offers such incredible results as opposed to doing an exercise on a hard flat surface is that the human body must respond to the instability of the ball.  When a person has a body part that is supported by the stability ball, he must continually adjust his position which causes a much wider range of muscle groups to be used. These muscles may not have been previously challenged using traditional exercise equipment.

Therefore, your abdominal and back musculature are simultaneously working to balance and stabilize the body. The kind of strong postural muscles that are developed are important for relieving and preventing low-back pain.

Additionally, t he stability ball is comfortable and supportive because it conforms to your unique anatomy since it is air-filled.  So, when using the stability ball, it is easy to get into and out of different exercise positions because it gets you off of the floor. The stability ball is ideal for improving abdominal muscles and lower-back strength, as well as increasing functional strength, flexibility and balance.

The stability ball can improve muscle strength and endurance in all of the major muscle groups. Training with the stability ball will improve overall muscle tone, increase muscle endurance and strength, restore or improve flexibility, enhance spinal stability, help you lose weight, and lastly, improve your balance, posture and coordination.

The other benefit is that a stability ball can be purchased at any store like a Walmart and only costs about ten bucks.  So, you work out in your own home without any expensive equipment. 

There are hundreds of different exercises that can be used with the stability ball. Both beginners and advanced exercises can be done with it. Plus, anyone from children to seniors can use it. With the stability ball you can work your legs, arms, chest, back, abdominals and you can even get a cardiovascular workout.  Below are a few suggested exercises that can be done with the stability ball.

Ball Balance: Sit on the stability ball with your abs tightened and a straight spine with your arms extended on either side of you and one foot resting on the floor. Once you feel stable, lift other foot off floor and hold it for a few seconds, then rest it back on the floor with the other foot and repeat with the opposite side.

Oblique Twist: Begin lying with stability ball resting under your back.  Place hands behind head for support.  Using your abdominal muscles slowly raise up lifting your shoulder blades off of the stability ball and rotate your left shoulder toward your right hip.  Do not strain your neck by pulling on it with your hands.  Keep your elbows out to your side.  Return to the starting position and repeat then switch sides.

Chest Fly: Lie across the stability ball with your head and shoulders supported on the stability ball and your legs bent with heels about two feet from the stability ball. Extend your arms overhead with your palms facing away from you. Slowly separate your arms in a circular motion and bend your elbows slightly as you lower your arms down and rotate your palms to face each other. Return to start position and repeat.

This is just a small sampling of the many highly effective and fun exercises available with a stability ball. If you’re looking for a new effective way to workout you might want to look into a stability ball workout. For more information, click right here .

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