Your best friend calls and tells you how much they enjoy their new exercise ball as an office chair and how wonderful they feel at the end of the day. You are jealous but you wonder whether an exercise ball is really better. Research claims exercise balls increase trunk muscle activation and core strength, improve posture, and decrease discomfort. Another claim of using exercise balls is that the number of calories burned is also increased because of the higher use of body core strength. If exercise balls are really better, why isn’t everyone using them?
Current scientific evidence shows that exercise balls actually cause more problems! Most ergonomic experts recommend an adjustable desk or task chair. Several studies support this finding. One study 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 by causing the pelvis to rotate forward flattening the natural curve of the lumbar spine, which adds to further compression to the intervertebral discs.” A second study found
that, “There was no difference in muscle activation…between sitting on the chair and ball.” Most exercise balls actually don't offer stability, don't have lumbar support, and don't have arm rests. A wonderful resource
, written by Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, is a comprehensive fact sheet that discusses the truths about using an exercise ball in the workplace.
The bottom line is that exercise balls should be left at the gym, yoga studio, or physical therapy center. Current scientific research concludes that exercise balls could lead to more musculoskeletal problems, not to mention a trip and fall hazard. LandrumHR’s Risk Management Team recommends using an adjustable desk or task chair that is correctly adjusted to the individual, and promotes comfort, support and neutral body posture. Other recommendations that promote healthy computer workstation habits are incorporating mini breaks and taking phone calls while standing.
If you have any questions regarding computer workstation health & comfort, please reach out to our Risk Management Department. We have a full team of professionals to assist you. Call 850-476-5100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org