An office job requires you to sit at your desk for long hours. This has many negative effects not only on your posture but also increases the risk of diabetes and slows your metabolism. To avoid these health problems a person would have to do more than occasional walking in the office. For this purpose, many people have started using exercise ball or stability ball for sitting at a desk, previously used in yoga to achieve “active sitting”.
One might think that an ergonomic chair can prevent you from having bad posture but in reality, we all know that after few hours of work, we start slumping on our “comfortable chair” as well. Exercise ball for sitting at a desk on the other hand helps in achieving active sitting since it is unstable and forces your body to keep making small adjustments in the core and lower body.
What Size Exercise Ball for Sitting at Desk?
Generally, it is best to buy a ball that is 4cm taller than the chair you are replacing; this is because the ball will deflate when you will sit on it.
But there are other factors to keep in mind before buying an exercise ball. We have mentioned these factors so that you can get proper balance and stability from an exercise ball.
Exercise balls available in the market have a height of 45cm, 55cm, 65cm, and 75cm sizes. The most commonly used ball is 65cm as it is suitable for people of heights between 5’9” to 6’2”.
To determine the most suitable size of an exercise ball for yourself, you should consider the following factors:
- Get a measurement tape and measure the length of your knee from the floor. That should be the ideal height of the ball for you.
- When you sit on the ball there should be a 90-degree angle between your hips and legs.
- It is best to buy a ball that is slightly larger than the measurement you made and under-inflated to your ideal size.
- For better summarization and your ease, we have made a chart that will help you select the best exercise ball size with your height
|Your Height||Ball Dimension|
|Less than 5 ft||44-45 cm “XS”|
|5 ft 1 in – 5 ft 8 in||53-55 cm “S”|
|5 ft 9 in – 6 ft 2 in||63-65 cm “M”|
|6 ft 3 in – 6 ft 7 in||74-75 cm “L”|
|Greater than 6 ft 8 in||85 cm “XL”|
- When you sit on the exercise ball it deflates to an extent. Therefore purchasing an exercise ball that is slightly larger than your normal desk chair is best.
- To achieve “active sitting” the best thing to be done will be to have a mixture of the desk chair, exercise ball, and walking during office hours.
- Make sure to buy an exercise ball that is from a good brand and has qualities like anti-burst coating and slip surface.
- Make sure that the ball is not very hard because it will become very difficult to sit on it for an hour or longer.
- Also, make sure that the ball is large enough to cover your hips because this will help you achieve proper weight distribution and the proper angle between your leg and floor.
How to Properly Inflate an Exercise Ball?
Firstly you need to know the height of your ball when it is fully inflated. Following are steps we need to take to properly inflate the exercise ball:
- Identify the height of your desk chair with the help of a measurement tape. Add 4 inches or 10 centimetres in that number and mark that height with a pencil on the wall.
- Inflate the ball till it reaches the marked height. This will be the height of the exercise ball that will be suitable for you.
- Make sure that the ball is not over-inflated because it can burst if it is more than the actual size.
Advantages of Using an Exercise Ball
In a 2012 research by Tamara M. Schult and other authors called “sitting on stability balls: Biomechanics evaluation in a workplace setting” they had found that there was increased energy, improvement in posture, and better balance among office workers who used exercise balls. Moreover in a 2017 research conducted by D. Clark Dickin called “Energy expenditure and muscular activation patterns through active sitting on the compliant surface”. The researchers monitored a body’s reaction on an exercise ball for ten minutes and found that lower body muscles were activated even though there wasn’t any core muscle engagement involved.
Using an exercise ball also encourages you to exercise more. It is a good warm-up before doing exercise like abs crunches since you will only have to roll back from your desk to do it. Having an exercise mat in the office would require the worker to properly leave the work to do the exercise.
Missing Evidence on Usage of Exercise Ball
Despite the above-mentioned research that concludes using an exercise ball during work has benefits and has increased in popularity among people, some researchers have found little to no connection between an exercise ball and its claimed benefits. Some researchers conclude usage of an exercise ball is injurious for health.
No core activation
Researchers are divided on whether using an exercise ball is beneficial or not. While one research says that exercise ball causes an increase in core activation whereas another research concludes that exercise ball does not activate core muscles at all. And some other research concludes that there is no difference between an exercise chair and desk chair in regards to core activation.
Insignificant calories burn
According to a study conducted in 2015 called “Unstable sitting in the workplace – are there physical activity benefits?” by Brian D.Lowe and more, concludes that only a fractional amount of energy expends while using an exercise ball and it is not enough to counter the risk associated with sitting too long.
One research called “Sitting on stability balls: Biomechanics evaluation in a workplace setting” conducted by Tamara M. Schult and others warns against prolonged use of exercise ball as they have observed it causes some pain. Similarly, prolonged sitting on a normal desk chair can cause back pain. So we can summarize that prolonged usage of both desk chair and exercise ball is harmful.
If you want to get the most out of exercise ball and avoid any injury you should keep the following factors in mind.
Keep in mind the size of an exercise ball
It is better that your thighs are not at exactly a 90 degrees angle but rather slop a little downwards. Neither the height of the ball is so high for you that you have to balance yourself with your hands on the desk.
Create safe surroundings
If you are using an exercise ball for the first time then there are chances that you might fall, therefore, it would be best if you have a wall that will stop the ball from rolling or a mat to soften your fall.
Using an exercise ball for sitting at a desk is good as it creates an activity for employees to do while working but it is recommended to only use the exercise ball for a short time during the day and not use it full time.
If you have any suggestions or queries, let us know below.