Stability balls, popular in many fitness centers and gyms, provide many options for exercise. You can sit, lie, lean over or rest body parts on the ball during cardio, strength-training or flexibility exercise. Almost anyone can exercise with a stability ball. Workouts range in level of difficulty and, when performed consistently, can improve balance, flexibility and more.
Stability balls are valuable resources for improving your balance. You can sit on the ball, bounce on it or roll your body across the ball. For example, during your warmup, sit on the ball and bounce gently. During the cardio phase, bounce more vigorously on the ball or pick up your feet as you perform dance steps sitting on the ball. These options strengthen your core muscles as you balance on the ball. If you have concerns about balance when you begin working with a stability ball, place a stability ring or a base under the ball to keep it in one place. In exercises that require the ball to move, such as abdominal curls and pelvic rocks, the base or stability ring will hamper your workout, however.
Hand weights and resistance bands are just two ways to incorporate strength training into your stability ball workout. You can lift the ball with your hands or legs. Sit on the ball and lift your legs or lie across the ball and do pushups. Abdominal curls, crunches, extensions and bridges strengthen your core muscles. Choose two or three of these strengthening exercises each day to perform on the ball, keeping your routine varied and active to remain effective.
Stretches keep you flexible and help you retain or extend your range of motion. Stretch back over the ball to spread your ribs or stretch in a face down position to spread your spine. Lean sideways across the ball to stretch your obliques. Lie on the floor with your feet holding the ball against the wall as you push it up the wall by extending your legs until your legs are perpendicular to the floor. Sit on the ball and rotate your hips in a circle to flex your core muscles.
Dance with your stability ball as a hand prop or execute dance steps while sitting on the ball for an effective cardio workout. Bounce on the ball at a moderate to high intensity rate to boost your heart rate. You can jump as you move the ball over your head, from side to side and out in front of you. Another option includes standing to one side of the ball as you bend over and place your hands on the ball. Jump from one side of the ball to the other side as quickly as you can.
- 101 Workouts for Women; editors of Muscle and Fitness Hers
- Swiss Ball for Total Fitness; James Milligan
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: Core-Strength Exercises With a Fitness Ball
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.