Are Exercise Ball Chairs Good For You?

The office is becoming the new frontier of human health.

Since most of us spend at least ⅓ of our life at work, it makes sense that new fitness equipment is actually re-purposed office equipment.

The first consideration in a long line of health concerns is the unnatural amount of time we spend sitting at our desks. Office chairs have seemingly become the smoking and refined grains of office furniture. Yet like anything related to healthy living , there are millions of “experts” out there trying to sell you our their “innovative” approach to the damage caused by modern conveniences.

One of the more popular products is stability ball chairs. You can either use an exercise ball by itself or a special office-chair-ball-holder that provides a mini backrest as well. The question is whether these chairs are actually good for you, or if they’re just another well-marketed, yet useless, “fitness” product.

The interest in office chair alternatives is a recent phenomenon stemming from a growing body of research that proves how unhealthy sitting is for the average person.

According to recent studies, sitting can cause deep vein thrombosis, put you at a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes, and is considered as insidious as smoking.

The issue stems from the lack of muscle activation which reduces blood flow to vital muscle groups like, the lower back and hip flexors, weakening them.

Stability balls are believed to be a solid counter measure to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle since they supposedly require core muscle activation to sit-up properly.

Unfortunately, using a stability ball does not increase core muscle activation, improve posture, or appear to provide any added benefit compared to a regular office chair. In fact, in most studies, sitting on a stability ball increased lower-back discomfort among participants. So, what other options do you have to prevent the damage caused by sitting all day?

The easiest solution is to add 15-minute walking breaks every 1-2 hours throughout your day. This will help improve circulation to key muscle groups in your back and legs, which are the most adversely affected from sitting all day.

Your second option is turning your workstation into a stand-up desk, (my personal recommendation). Standing desks allow you to actually strengthen your leg and back muscles as opposed to just preventing them from atrophying.

I’ve also noticed that I can sustain my energy level and creativity for longer periods of time compared to when I spent most of my time sitting.

While having a standing desk may be dependent on an open-minded office culture, cost shouldn’t. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on pre-made desk, do what this lady did and build your own for $20. If you’re feeling really hardcore you can invest in a treadmill desk or build your own. In both instances, it’s important to maintain proper posture to prevent back, neck and leg pain.

Two ways to do this are:

1. Make sure your eyes are at ¾ level height of your computer monitor.

2. Make sure your elbows are at a perfect 90 degree angle when typing on your keyboard.

Some of you may think that this article doesn’t apply to you because, even though you spend a lot of time sitting, you workout everyday and have an intense training schedule. Unfortunately that doesn’t matter, even if you exercise regularly you still have the same risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes from excessive sitting.

While the dangers associated with sitting may seem overwhelming, don’t let it intimidate you. The human body is incredibly resilient, and any damage done by excessive sitting can be undone through simple changes in your daily routine.

Whether it’s adding a little movement throughout your day or going ham on a treadmill desk, you’ll undoubtedly notice a change in mood and productivity throughout the day.