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Healthy & fit on the go Balance balls What to buy? - Balance balls are large plastic inflatable balls that are used for sitting upon and for exercise. Here are some tips for choosing the right ball for you: measure - The distance from the floor to your knee converted to centimeters (inches x 2.54) is the approximate size ball you should buy. If your measurement is between ball sizes, buy the larger ball and under-inflate it. Your hips and knees should bend at a 90: angle when you sit on the proper size exercise ball. To use the ball as a desk chair, choose one size larger than these recommended sizes. Sizes- Here are the most common sizes that fit these approximate height ranges: 45 cm ball for people 4’7” to 5’ 55 cm ball for people 5’ to 5’5” 65 cm ball for people 5’5” to 6’ 75 cm ball for people 6’ to 6’8” 85 cm ball for people over 6’8” Quality - most balls sold as fitness equipment are made of good quality materials and come with an inflation pump. Look for burst or puncture resistant balls that deflate slowly if a hole develops – sometimes labeled SDS (slow deflate system). Why a balance ball? - Two important health and injury prevention benefits result from using a balance ball for exercise: 1) core (abdomen & lower back) strengthening, and 2) balance improvement. Safety - It is very important to understand your current fitness level and begin balance ball exercises at the appropriate level. Take time to get used to the ball; hold onto something stable like a chair or the wall when you begin so you don’t roll backwards or sideways and fall off. healthy core balance - Sit on the ball, feet flat on floor, spine and neck straight, abdominal muscles (abs) pulled in, arms at sides. Shift your weight slightly to feel how your abs and lower back work to keep you upright. Once comfortable, challenge yourself: Hold arms out to the side, front, overhead Lift one foot, lift the other foot, then lift both Try all of these positions with your eyes shut Increase the length of time you sit on the ball – up to several hours Abdomen - In addition to the balance exercises, try these to focus on your abs: Lie on your back on floor, feet & lower legs on top of ball. With hands on your thighs, walk fingers up to your knees, hold, gently lower torso Sit on ball, feet flat on floor, roll your bottom forward and lay back until the ball is under lower back. Curl chin forward and lift torso toward knees, hold & gently lower back - Add these back exercises for a healthy, strong core: Lie on your stomach on the ball, knees on floor, hug ball with your arms, back rounded. Gently lift torso until spine is straight, lower & relax Lie on your stomach on the ball, legs straight out behind, toes on floor, arms on ball. Stretch right leg back and left arm to front as if reaching for the wall, hold, switch to left leg and right arm. Arms & shoulders - Balance ball pushups are very effective! Lie on your stomach on the ball, knees or toes on floor, hands on floor in front. Shift weight to hands, roll forward until ball is under thighs, do slow pushups. Challenge yourself by rolling ball further down your legs as you build strength. Developed by Betsy Johnson, Extension Educator, Health & Nutrition, firstname.lastname@example.org For more information, visit www.extension.umn.edu/health University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer. This material is available in alternative formats upon request. Direct requests to 218.327.5964.
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