It seems nearly from the moment Mrs. Spot Cool Stuff was pregnant, we’ve been inundated with information about the merits of sitting on an exercise ball. The list of benefits (more on them below) are most pronounced for expectant moms. But they most certainly are not exclusive to them. Whether you are pregnant or not, whether they were women or not, sitting on an exercise ball really does promote health and posture.
The problem is that, as a piece of furniture, an exercise ball is, technically speaking, butt ugly. And it’s hard to keep them in one place since balls, by definition, roll around. To help with both issues, Gaiam, a cool purveyor of healthy lifestyle products, developed the Balance Ball Chair.
To be clear, Spot Cool Stuff does not consider the Balance Ball Chair attractive. But the look of it is certainly a step up from an exercise ball sans accoutrements. In fact, we know of several offices that don’t allow their employees to sit on large stand-alone inflatable plastic balls but do allow the Balance Ball Chair.
What we do consider the Balance Ball Chair to be is a healthier alternative to your typical desk seat. Among the reasons why:
• Better spine alignment. By happy coincidence, the best spinal posture is also the one that’s the easiest to balance with. Since sitting on a ball — even a soft inflatable one — forces you into a position for optimal balance, your spine will benefit.
• Increased balance and circulation. Both of these are benefits of sitting on a slightly unstable surface too.
• Improved posture. Sitting on a balance ball encourages you to assume a “perching” position with legs are spread further apart. That might not be considered very lady-like but it does allow your lower back and pelvis to be in a more balanced relationship.
• Frequently position changes. If your phone rings while sitting on a normal chair at your desk, chance are that you’ll stretch to reach it and return to your pre-call sitting position. With the Balance Ball Chair you need to turn your whole body to face the phone. That motion helps reduce damage caused by prolonged sitting in the same position.
• “Free” exercise. Though Spot Cool Stuff can’t independently verify this claim, we’ve read in multiple sources that sitting on a balance ball during the course of a normal work day burns 350 more calories than sitting on a regular chair does. That’s the equivalent of losing one pound of fat every 10 days!
The Balance Ball Chair is also pretty cheap, especially when compared a high-end ergonomic option. At the time of writing, Gaiam has the chair on sale for $80.
Of course, none of that has to do with why there are Balance Ball Chairs at the Spot Cool Stuff office. Our reason for getting one? Bouncing up and down while doing work — it can be kind of fun.