On The Ball

Trading an office chair for an exercise ball.

By Rebecca Kirkman - February 2015

The Benefits of an Exercise Ball

Trading an office chair for an exercise ball.

By Rebecca Kirkman - February 2015

-Getty Images

When Andrea Martin became pregnant with her son in 2012, the chair at her then-desk job made her back ache.

"I had heard of other pregnant women switching to an exercise ball, so I gave it a try," says Martin. "Not only did it help keep me comfortable, it was fun to sit on."

Once banished to the gym, exercise balls are popping up in place of chairs in cubicles, with the promise of a more engaged core.

"Sitting at a desk affects the neck, upper back, and shoulders," says Dr. Ray Moore of Physical Therapy First in Roland Park.

Over the course of a workday, it's natural to fall into a "slump" posture, with a rounded back and protracted shoulders. That's where, according to some experts, the ball comes in.

"It really allows you to choose the position your spine is in while you're at your desk," says physical therapist Lizzie Cavanaugh Bellinger of Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Center in Timonium. "Most office chairs choose your spine position for you by supporting you into a very specific posture."

Although it may not be practical for an entire eight-hour workday due to muscle fatigue, it can be beneficial in shorter periods, says Bellinger.

While the ball and standard chair come out neck-and-neck in clinical studies, users like Martin swear they can feel the difference. "I wouldn't go back to a traditional desk chair," she says. "I credit the ball with helping me get my core back in shape after having my son."

You May Also Like

The Chatter

City Council Seeks to Address Trauma Crisis Among Baltimore Children

More than 56 percent of city children have experienced one or more major traumatic events.

Health & Wellness

Start Right

Wellness experts share tips on starting your morning off right.

Charmed Life

How to Find The Right Athletic Shoes For You

Local running experts share tips and tricks for planning your next purchase.

Health & Wellness

Back to Basics

Natural beauty: From the pantry to the beauty cupboard

The Chatter

Leana Wen Ousted as President of Planned Parenthood

Former Baltimore City Health Commissioner, on job less than a year, was second physician to lead organization in 103-year history.

-Getty Images

Doctor Finder

Connect With Us

Most Read

Developers Hope to Unveil Greektown’s Yard 56 by 2020: The mixed-use project will be anchored by Streets Market and LA Fitness.

Oletha DeVane Showcases Sculptural Works in 'Traces of Spirit' at the BMA: Local multidisciplinary artist explores religion, nature, and humanity in exhibit on view through October 20.

Decades Night Club Documents Baltimore Club Music History at the Peale Center: We speak with curator Mia Loving about her latest exhibit, on view through this week.

Relics of Baltimore's Forgotten Punk Scene Showcased in New Metro Gallery Exhibit: Celebrated Summer Records owner Tony Pence curates fliers, photos, and music from 1977 to 1989.