As seen in Australian Life Style Fitness
Swiss balls are large, durable, inflatable balls with a diameter of 35 to 85 cm (14 to 34 inches). They are usually constructed of elastic, soft PVC and known under a variety of names, such as exercise ball, gym ball, therapy ball, Pilate’s ball, sports, fit or fitness ball, stability ball, yoga ball, balance or body ball, and birth ball.
Swiss balls originated in Switzerland where, as early as the 1960’s, physical therapists used the oversized toys to assist with rehabilitation. Because of their effectiveness, the idea took off and Swiss balls are now used all over the world for a number of therapies, as well as other weight loss exercises.
Today, Swiss balls rank among the top fitness tools used by health care professionals, gym instructors and individuals at home. Some fans will even use a Swiss ball as a chair while working on their computer, or watching TV. Sitting on the ball and constantly readjusting your balance will strengthen, for example, your abs and your lower back. You can also use the fitness ball as a bench. With the help of your free-weights you can then target those hard to reach stabilizer muscles.
– Correct Alignment – Because they are less stable than traditional exercise equipment, a Swiss ball will force you to work all of the muscles required to maintain balance, coordination and stability. The alignment of your body will also improve.
– Core Stability – Your back and deep abdominal muscles stabilize and support all of your body movements. Swiss ball exercises will strengthen those particular muscles, no matter how deep they are.
– Strong Abs – An abdominal crunch on an exercise ball has been proven to be more beneficial for your abs than a regular crunch because it works all muscles simultaneously.
– Muscle Strength and Endurance – Muscle strength and endurance can be developed in all of the major muscle groups. Stronger muscles can help alleviate back pain and prevent back discomfort in the future. As major muscle groups are exercised, tone, strength, balance, flexibility and endurance will improve.
– Proper Stretching – Anyone who wants to properly stretch should use a Swiss ball. With the device, you can easily change between stretching positions. Training with the Swiss ball will also restore or advance your flexibility.
– Weight Loss – Strengthening exercises will reduce body fat and are highly recommended for people who want to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight. Using the balance ball regularly – even if you just sit on it while watching your favourite TV shows – will help you lose weight.
Here are a four sample Swiss ball exercises
Stomach Strengthening – Lie with your back on the ball. Pre-stretch, keeping your upper body straight. Lift your upper body while tightening the stomach muscles. Slowly roll the ball back and forth.
Opposite Limb Extension – Lie with your stomach on the fitness ball and stabilize yourself with your hands and toes. While maintaining your balance, stretch out one arm and the opposite leg. Hold for several seconds, and then return to starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg combination.
Upper Body Rotation Exercise – Stabilize your front upper body on the fitness ball. Stretch out your arms sideways (as if you are going to fly). Turn your body to one side, hold for 2 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat, turning your body to the other side.
Spinal Column straightening – On your knees, place your upper body comfortably on the ball. Keeping your arms up in a u-form next to your head, lift your upper body. Hold position for a while. Lower the body back onto the ball. Repeat.
There are many different exercises including core crunchers, elevated and balanced push-ups, trunk extensions, abdominal rolls, various stretches, etc.
Swiss balls are safe, fun and a highly effective way to exercise and lose weight. They are inexpensive and will last for a very long time. They are the perfect exercise equipment for all genders and ages.