Having a 'Ball' With Exercise
Exercise balls are a recent trend in fitness, and they target muscles that are often forgotten.
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Before hopping on and going for a roll,
there are a couple of things to be aware of when using an exercise
"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
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
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.