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Ball Beware

Before hopping on and going for a roll, there are a couple of things to be aware of when using an exercise ball.

 

"If a person has an issue related to a sudden, unexplained loss of balance, such as sudden blood pressure changes potentially leading to light-headedness or dizziness, he or she should avoid using an exercise ball," says Sullivan, since balance plays a key roll in this device.

 

Another rule to follow when using an exercise ball is to use it on a soft floor.

 

"Don't use the exercise ball on or near any hard surfaces like a concrete or tile floor, which could cause injury if you fell off," says Cotton. And, as with any exercise, "Progressing gradually in the use of the exercise ball is very important."

On a Roll

Exercise balls allow you to target muscles that are seldom used but essential to health and fitness.

 

"The ultimate goal of the exercise ball is to challenge core strength," says Sullivan.

 

With a stronger "core," overall athletic ability is enhanced, and with that comes better posture and balance.

 

With a cost of between $10 and $200, depending on size and what comes with the exercise ball, such as videotapes, air pumps, or other equipment, it can be a bargain compared with costly exercise machines. Better yet, they are easy to use and remind you that there is more to your body than a six-pack and shapely calves.

Don't Forget Medicine Balls

Medicine balls are similar to exercise balls. Smaller in size and heavier in weight, they are used to strengthen the core of the body.

 

"Medicine balls, also called heavy balls, promote muscular strength and endurance, work the core muscles, and can simulate some athletic moves," says Cotton. "They can target the forearms, biceps, triceps, and support muscles, including the abs, upper and lower back, shoulders, and legs."

 

As with the exercise ball, work with a certified trainer, physical therapist, or exercise physiologist when you are first beginning to use the medicine ball.

 

A good starting exercise is to find a partner and simply play catch with the medicine ball. This strengthens the arms, and chest, and back area.

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