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Exercise Balls

Learn how to incorporate fitness balls into your workout

If you're interested in getting in shape, you don't have to purchase a lot of expensive exercise equipment to do so. In fact, according to fitness gurus, a single inexpensive piece of equipment – the exercise ball – is fundamental to helping you define your muscles and lose weight.

Exercise Balls

What are Exercise Balls?

Exercise balls are like large, heavy duty versions of the rubber or plastic balls you might find at a playground. Made of thick, resistant vinyl, exercise balls (also called fitness balls, stability balls and balance balls) range from approximately 20 to 40 inches in size. Some balls are durable enough to withstand weights up to 600 pounds, but if you are overweight, shop carefully to ensure that the ball you choose is right for your weight.

Training with Exercise Balls

The exercises you can do with a fitness ball are practically limitless. The simplest exercise consists of just sitting or lying on the ball. Because a sphere is an unstable surface, your body has to work harder to stay balanced and steady, incorporating lots of little muscles you wouldn't normally use. The result is a low-impact strength training exercise that helps to tone all muscle groups in your body. Some people even enjoy doing office work or watching television while sitting on a fitness ball.

For people who are looking for more of a challenge, an exercise ball can be used in combination with just about any other aerobic or strength training exercise. For example, try doing sit-ups while lying on your fitness ball – you'll be surprised at how this simple exercise becomes a challenging workout! You could also hold medicine balls while doing sit-ups, for extra weight and resistance. Or you could find a BOSU ball, which is a smaller exercise ball with a board on top. You stand on the board, and the ball on the bottom gives your muscles some instability to compensate for while you're exercising (doing biceps curls, for example) making for a tougher, but eventually more rewarding, workout.

Finally, for the ultimate exercise ball workout, look for fitness ball workout videos online or at your local video store. These videos, designed for a variety of fitness levels, lead you through a comprehensive workout using your exercise ball, and they can provide you with lots of motivation to get you active and fit!

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