Sitting may seem like one of the most benign activities you can do, but in fact, it is very stressful on the body. Short periods of sitting are great for rest, of course, but with many of today's jobs, we sit at our desks for six, seven, or eight hours a day – and sometimes more!
All this sitting can leave a body in distress. Staying in a chair all day clearly causes problems for all the obvious places like your hips, back, shoulders, and neck. We can feel those right away, sometimes within minutes or hours after settling into work.
Surprisingly, sitting for long periods can also increase your risk of many other, seemingly unrelated diseases. According to Healthline.com, constant sitting over time can also put you at higher risk for varicose veins, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer!
These days majority of us started working from home. And, unlike some offices, our homes are not ergonomically equipped with specially designed chairs or sit-to-stand desks. But investing in a fancy chair or a new desk may not be within your budget right now.
So, what can we all do to help mitigate these uncomfortable and potentially severe issues?
Use a yoga ball seat! Sitting on yoga ball chairs in place of your standard office chair for long periods works wonders for the body. It can help prevent common issues resulting from extended periods of sitting and help avoid additional problems, as well.
The use of yoga balls – also known as stability balls, Swiss balls, or exercise balls – as an office chair has become increasingly popular among office workers and stay-at-home professionals over the last few years.
Sitting on a stability ball benefits the entire body as a whole. Your core is constantly engaged to keep your body upright, strengthening your stomach muscles while you sit. Exercising while working? Bonus! Especially during the quarantine times!
Using a yoga ball chair benefits the lower spine, as well. Because your abdominal muscles are continuously getting stronger, they help protect your spine and encourage better posture.
For added fun or when you've had a little too much coffee, use your chair as a bouncy ball seat! Bouncing up and down lightly on your ball can facilitate blood flow to your hips and back and tailbone, and can help you if you are feeling fidgety.
Sitting all day on a yoga ball is still sitting all day. Even if you invest in the best ball chair on the market, you're still sitting. It is essential to take breaks to stand up and stretch, no matter what type of chair you have.
A study conducted at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, found that "prolonged sitting on a stability ball does not greatly alter the manner in which an individual sits, yet it appears to increase the level of discomfort."
We noted, however, that the study comparing sitting on a ball to sitting in an office chair was conducted for only one hour of work per chair type. Would increasing the time spent in each type of chair per day to eight hours a day, week after week, alter the results?
Remember to give yourself time to adjust to a new ball chair. Your body will need time to realign, and your abs need time to strengthen before they are stable enough to support your back correctly.
When first starting out with your new yoga ball chair, alternate between it and your old office chair until your body is ready to make the switch permanently.
It may also be beneficial to add additional abdominal and spine strengthening exercises to your regular fitness routine. Building those core muscles can help make the transition easier.
There are many options for selecting the best yoga ball chair for you.
The most important part of choosing a ball chair is using the correct size for your height. Using the incorrect size can put undue stress on the hips and legs because your body is not aligned appropriately. Legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle, both at the hips and at the knees, with your feet resting flat on the floor.
Sitting on an improperly sized or inflated ball may cause pinching in the legs and hips. Pinching can decrease blood flow to the feet. If you find your feet get cold or sore quickly, you made need to change the inflation level or ball size to suit.
Be sure to properly inflate your ball according to the manufacturer's specific instructions. Most guides will have instructions on how to do so, some even coming with a flexible tape measure so you can get it just right.
If you find using a stability ball benefits your lower body, but your arms and neck are still feeling sore because your desk is the wrong height, you can alter the diameter and inflation somewhat. The best ball chair for your desk at the office may not be the best ball chair for home use.
If you do find your upper body is suffering, you may find that the best ball chair for office use is one specially designed with a supportive back and armrests.
Sitting on a ball all day can be uncomfortable, just like sitting in any chair. If your lower back and spine aren't used to supporting themselves all day, it can cause additional strain and discomfort to your workday.
Using a yoga ball chair with arms and a stable backrest can increase your comfort level, which helps maintain your overall productivity.
The Aeromat Ball Chair Deluxe is styled along the lines of a more traditional office chair, with a generous lower back and arm supports with a rolling base for increased mobility. It is designed to use a smaller ball so that it fits more comfortably at a typical office desk.
Note, however, that it will not accommodate all desk sizes. Be sure to measure your office workstation before you buy to make sure the one you've chosen suits your needs.
Not everyone has room in their budget to throw around money on a new ergonomically designed office chair. Fortunately, yoga balls are available in many different price ranges for all types of needs.
You can find a standalone yoga ball with a foot pump for under $20.
Trideer yoga balls come in many color varieties and appropriate sizes to fit your body and chair requirements. Trideer's exercise balls are made with BPA-free PVC plastic and feature a non-slip material, so you won't slide off while you're trying to work. Their yoga balls are extra thick and can resist up to 2200 pounds of pressure in a short burst – but don't try parking your car on it.
We can personally attest to the quality of Trideer's exercise balls. They are durable and long-lasting. Our only experience with them deflating is when incorrectly stored around cats using them as a scratching post.
You can find yoga balls at higher prices, but often these are full packages that come with exercise instruction guides and extra workout equipment. These are not necessary when using the ball as an office chair.
If you're concerned about falling over continuously, or worried that your ball will roll away during your break, you can also purchase a stability stand on a budget. The URBNFit Exercise Ball Base transforms an everyday yoga ball into a more stable chair for under $20.
The increased stability of a base also takes some of the strain off your body. While you still get the physical benefits of using a ball chair, you don't have to constantly worry about maintaining balance while you're trying to work.
The URBNFit balance ball stand comes in a single piece or a four-piece snap-together style. The four-piece style can be useful for travel to and from work, or if you have less available storage space or share your desk with someone else.
If you prefer the full yoga ball chair with arms, a backrest, or a stable base, you can find many different kinds available. The Aeromat Ball Chair Deluxe mentioned previously has all the benefits of a regular office chair with arms and backrest with the additional support of a fully stable base.
Alternatively, the Gaiam Ultimate Balance Ball Chair has a small backrest and base but does not include arms. Depending on your workstation, you may find that armrests actually inhibit your ability to sit at your desk comfortably. Choosing an option with a simple backrest may be the right choice for you.
Both these and many other yoga ball seat options can be purchased for around $100, a reasonable investment in improving and maintaining the quality of your health during your workday.
Whether you work from home or in an office setting, making sure you are relaxed and comfortable at your desk is a must. It can mean the difference between a productive and fulfilling workday or potentially unhealthy and dangerous hours spent at the office. Choosing the right chair is vitally important.
We've covered the benefits and drawbacks of using an exercise ball as a chair for work. We've looked at specifics of different types of chair needs, and the financial investment it takes to make the switch to a yoga ball chair for your home or office workstation.
You made a choice to become more familiar with the pros and cons of using an exercise ball for your office chair. You're equipped with some general pricing ideas. Now you can make a more well-informed choice before investing.
You know your body best. It is up to you to decide whether or not using a stability ball benefits your overall well-being at work. Trying it for yourself is the only sure way to know whether using a yoga ball chair will be right for you. Check out alternative orthopedic seat cushion options if you are unsure about investing into a yoga ball - they are portable, versatile and cost-effective.
Dr. Svetlana Parshenkova received her M.D from Kuban State Medical University (KSMU) in 1998 and her Executive MBA from Antwerp Management School in 2012. She has served as a Medical Information Manager for a large pharmaceutical company Les Laboratories Servier for over 20 years. In her free time she enjoys blogging about health, wellness and orthopedics.