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Strengthen Your Abs and Burn Calories with No Effort

by The Happy Rock on June 2, 2007

ballchair.jpgA funny thing happened as I was about to get in the shower this morning, I noticed that there was a little definition to my upper abs. I am not talking about a Muscle and Fitness 6-pack here, but maybe a 1-2 pack developing! You’re thinking “big deal”………the trick is that I haven’t worked out in months.

How did I do it? With the ingenious invention of rubber and air shown on the left. That’s right, I started sitting on a plain exercise ball at work(not the odd contraption to the right).

The transition started when I got tired of sitting on a chair at my computer for 8 hours a day. I tried standing at work for a month or two, and that was good most of the time. The only downside was when you were tired or really didn’t feel like standing. Changing the desk to sitting level wasn’t an easy task.

Then I came across this great article over at Gearfire, and I was sold.

It has been a little over a month since I ordered a Valeo (75cm) exercise ball from Amazon for a little over 11 dollars(free shipping with Amazon Prime). The ball came with an adequate pump, measuring device, and exercise poster. I brought it into work and pumped it up, and decided to jump right in. I will warn you that the pump makes an annoying whistling sound for the 10 minutes it take to pump up. The pumping created a lot of inquisitive visitors to my cubicle. Being in moderate physical shape I ditched my chair and sat on the workout ball 40 hours a week. It has been about 5 weeks, and all I can say is give it a try!

Here is my analysis :

Pros

  • Happiness Factor – This is one I didn’t see coming. I was smiling as I bounced around on the ball. It is a great feeling receiving happiness from such a little change in your life. As time rolls on this effect may fade some, but it has been the best part of the change for me.
  • It Works – I don’t have scientific data, but I do have observable subjective data that points to a strengthening of the core and burning of calories. There has been a noticeable change in the composition of my abs and obliques. Less fat and a little more muscle.
  • More Energy – I only felt tired twice in 5 weeks versus close to once a day in a normal chair. With a little bouncing, energy returns and so does a smile.
  • No Effort – It is not often that you can hack your life to get positive benefits out of everyday activities. Sitting on the ball hasn’t been strenuous or bothersome at any time. Some people may need to work up to a full day, which would require a little more effort and some fatigue(after that it’s smooth sailing). I am proud to report no falls, although the occasional stumble will inevitably happen.
  • Stretch Factor – Because of the added mobility, I found myself compelled to do little stretches throughout the day. My hamstrings are especially grateful.
  • The Talk Factor – It will definitely bring you some positive attention, and some sideward glances. Personally, I have enjoyed the “ball talk” and the influx of people wanting to try it out. Breaking the mold of a traditional business chair will garner you a little attention.

Cons

  • Odd Factor – The exercise ball solution may not work in all types of business atmospheres or for all people. I enjoy being odd and breaking the ‘rules’ and am decent shape, so it worked for me. I have read some people with back problems who thought it was great.
  • Insurance Factor – I am not sure companies like the idea that employees could get hurt while sitting.
  • Doesn’t Force Good Posture – I have read a couple places that sitting on an exercise ball forces good posture, but I don’t think that is true. The ball will definitely remind you much more often to have good posture. It is difficult and maybe a little dangerous to sit on a ball with bad posture, so it forces you to think about good posture often. I guess it is really a positive that it encourages better posture, but my negativity comes from the expectation that it would force good spinal health. I will add that when I sit with bad posture my upper back will get a little tired and stiff.

Given my experience, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. At least a half dozen people said they might try, but none have stepped up to the plate. Will you?

Email or comment if you have any questions, comments, or need some gentle encouragement.

If you aren’t convinced yet to buy a fitness ball as a chair, find some more motivation by watching a hilarious clip from The Office.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine OKelly June 4, 2007 at 1:16 am

I’m sold! At first I thought…no way could I do that; immediately reflecting on the image of Dwight Schrute his ball in one episode of “The Office.” But after your long list of pros I’m stoked to give it a try!

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TheHappyRock June 5, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Christine,

I would love to hear how it goes. I have even liked to so much that I have even started sitting on it at home.

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sillyllama June 11, 2007 at 7:41 pm

Ok, I’ve stepped up to the plate. I’m currently sitting, err bouncing, on my my ball at work ( the 65cm size.) I love this thing. I actually think that this could be of immense value to me. I’m the stereotypical type “A” person… high strung and fidgety by nature. Sitting in a chair my legs are usually going non-stop but I still usually end up feeling tired and lethargic pretty quickly. Not the case the with the ball. I feel much more physically engaged and as a result I feel much more energized than normal and can even feel it in my mood. With listening to some music I can’t sit still! Again, it’s the first day for me but I couldn’t be happier so far. If my core/stabilizer muscles develop a bit that’s great, but the energy boost is the dealmaker for me! THANKS for the suggestion!!

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Lodewijkvdb July 2, 2007 at 4:59 am

This article reminded me to start doing this again. I used a ball for a long time at home, but I stopped doing it and I can’t even remember why. I’m definitely going to start using it again, I can use all the no-effort exercise I can get :)

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Sheila July 15, 2007 at 12:23 am

I have happily been sitting on a ball at my computer for almost three years and wouldn’t trade it. It’s been great! After a while, you get very good at it, lol. Thanks for sharing!

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The Happy Rock July 15, 2007 at 11:01 am

Wow, Shiela! You were way ahead of the curve. Sitting on the ball is just starting to gain some attention, and you were doing it three years ago.
It has been only 3-4 months for me, and it is still quite fun. The last week or two I have been in my chair, but that is from some back stiffness unrelated to the ball. Whenever I take months off from weight training and stretching, my back gets tight. It is really time to start back up again.

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Muscle Fast January 15, 2008 at 1:38 am

Thanks for the article.

I use an exercise ball as a chair everyday now and find it forces me to maintain good posture. When I used to sit in a chair I would start slouching after 20 minutes, and my back would get sore.

The other nice thing about using a ball is that you can do crunches in between work sessions!

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The Happy Rock January 19, 2008 at 2:50 am

I like the bouncing! I am sure that I look like a silly six year old, but it is just plain fun. I like easy stretching rather than crunches at work, but doing some extra crunches is a nice fringe benefit.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Miguel August 6, 2008 at 10:10 pm

I tried to use the exercise ball as a chair too, but I FAIL miserably.. LOL I keep arching my back every time I used it. I even put a printed message near the monitor to remind myself about the posture.. Then the ball keep loosing air.. It was kind of annoying to get it and get out..

I ended buying an “ergonomic” chair and ball went to the closet.. :/

But like you said Happy Rock, the bouncing was fun..

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Tom October 14, 2008 at 7:02 am

Wow that looks very cool, I really should try that. I have terrible posture and could definitely use the ab benefits. Thanks for sharing!

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Jj December 26, 2008 at 12:42 pm

WOW! Now that is a fascinating looking device – definitely going to check into this. Thank you so much!

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Nasir | Freelife International January 6, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for sharing such a useful information. I am in the IT profession. I need to sit for several hours and have posture problems. I will definitely try your tip for me.

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Bill January 14, 2009 at 3:40 pm

LOL .. That clip from “the office” is too funny..

Good article too. Interesting how such a simple seating change could make such a difference..

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Kunto Plus January 21, 2009 at 4:23 pm

40 hours, wow. You gotta have tight abs after that week with the ball. I have tried to do abs on that ball and it kills me everytime after 10 situps. I truly love that excersize method with abs. Thanks for the tip btw.

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StrongandFit February 6, 2009 at 10:53 am

This is an original concept, but I think you’d be better off just doing some abdominal work.

But in fairness to you, you listed the pros and the cons.

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bauchfett February 20, 2009 at 4:32 am

Very nice article! The stability ball is a great tool to increase abdominal and core strength.

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Thompson February 22, 2009 at 10:27 am

ya this is very interesting and good for those who feel lazy to do exercise daily
Thanks for sharing this information with us
pagerank is 1

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Robyno March 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

Great idea, I have used an ball for the abs but not to sit on as an office chair and can’t do at present but will certainly try when it is possible. The only con that I can see from your list above is the insurance factor. Good work.

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Paul from WeightFitness April 28, 2009 at 3:49 am

I actually like this idea, but will need to work up on sitting time given the amount of lumbar support I require do to scoliosis.

I’ve got one of these (I’m looking at it now) I’m going to give it a try.

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3carnations May 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I got mine from Walmart, and it is made with some sand in it, which keeps it from rolling on its own. I have been sitting in it for a few weeks and I love it! Great for my back problems.

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Rachel Clarkson May 29, 2009 at 12:49 pm

what a great Idea! I can’t wait to try that chair, I also spend more than 8 hours per day sitting in front of my desk and my body is clearly resenting it. Good catch! thanks for sharing it

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Cassandra June 4, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Thanks for sharing this useful information. i’m sitting 10 hours in my office but gaining nothing healthy..
I have a stressful life, no time for exercise, im starting to have fats on my belly, and im worried about that.
But i know i have to do exercise it’s still the best thing to do to burn those unwanted fats.

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Odchudzanie June 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Yes, you might bo to right bout this points. Nice video as well.
Keep up the good posts!
take care!
Monica

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Chris July 4, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Always interested in finding new ways of doing things. Will check it out. Thanks.

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Elle from NoMoreFlab November 27, 2009 at 1:13 am

A friend recommended I come here and check out this post, I was thinking about getting one of these because I want to strengthen my back and I am always online working.

It looks great and is a bargain of a price. Great post.

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Henrik Flensborg December 12, 2009 at 6:32 pm

I used to sit on one of those balls – until my cat decided to slash it :-(

And it’s not only good for sitting on – plenty of really good core strengthening exercises you can do with a ball

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Ms.S2d May 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I just recently acquired this seditary job and my back side is less than loving it. The lack of exercise or movement of anykind makes me extremely tired and ashamed to say Lazy. The ball for me was simply so I could get blood back into my heart. now that i’m constantly moving i have more energy and more motivated to get work done. I guess everything else is just bonus. Thank you exercise ball!!!

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Britney June 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I’m a pretty active person, involved in sports and work out regularly, so it KILLS ME to have to sit at a desk 40 hours a week. At the end of every day my calves and ankles would be swollen slightly due to bad circulation and my office chair was beginning to wreak havoc on my back and shoulders.

Today is my first day using the ball instead of a chair and I have to say, it’s amazing! My energy level has increased dramatically (usually I feel the need for a nap in the mid-afternoon) and if I’m doing something particularly boring I can bounce on the ball for a little added fun. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner; it’s definitely worth a try if you’re even just the tiniest bit interested. My ball only cost $15 at Academy so it’s not much of a monetary risk. I would recommend this to anyone who needs a little more physical involvement in their boring work day.

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Kelcie July 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

I just got the exercise ball chair yesterday for work. It’s amazing. At first, my boss shot me down. Working in a law firm, a ball alone would have been a little too ridiculous. When I found the chair framed exercise ball, my boss was too curious to say no. Now everyone is interested. I find it not only more comfortable, but I feel awake and engaged. I couldn’t be happier.

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