Are there balance ball chair benefits for seniors?
You bet there are!
Can just sitting on a ball each day really do something this good for senior citizens?
Here, right now, you are going to learn:
Well, first of all, a static chair, that is: a chair that does not move, (which is most chairs) has some very unfavorable effects if we are are sitting there 8 or more hours every day. It's especially bad for us seniors.
Talking about those who sit in front of a computer: “Four hours a day of screen time increases your risk of death by any cause by 50%, according to findings of a study of more than 4,500 middle-aged men in Scotland.”
reference: “Health Risks From Sitting Still”
In that same article they recommend getting up every 20 minutes to move around.
Yeah. Sure. Every 20 minutes. In a working day. Or, even at home. Every 20 minutes. Does anybody really think that is going to happen? In the real world?
Exactly how many people who work at a desk all day are going to actually get up every 20 minutes to move around?
And, how many seniors enjoying a movie at home are going to get up every 20 minutes to move around?
I’ve NEVER met ANYONE who does. Senior or not. Ever. Even though we all know it would be so much better for us if we did.
So, here we come to the first of the balance ball chair benefits: We seniors can keep moving a little, gently, while we are working or just sitting and enjoying our day.
There are a number of “balance ball chairs” that have a ball placed in them. They usually have a back and a base.
We don’t want any of these.
Why?They limit the balancing benefits. Yes, they feel real nice. But, they don't improve us as much as using just the Balance Ball by itself.
When we talk about using a balance ball chair in this article, we will be talking about using an exercise balance ball (also known as a “Swiss Ball”) as the chair.
The chairs that have a frame and back support, and, contain an exercise balance ball in them, restrict the ball’s movement. They will not, as you just learned, give as many balance ball chair benefits to us seniors as just the plain balance ball all by itself.
Because with the chair frame, our own muscles do less balancing.
The first of the balance ball chair benefits we get when using using a Balance Ball as a desk chair, or while watching TV, is: It keeps us moving a bit all the time. Most of us seniors just don't move enough. This makes us stiff and weak.
Next: As we lean forward, side to side, reach for something, bouncing a bit, etc… the ball moves a little. AND, this makes all our muscles readjust just a bit on a constant basis.
Just sitting on the balance ball chair is not a static experience as it is in a regular chair. As effortless as it gets to be, our body is constantly balancing. Constantly developing muscle control and balance. Something most of us seniors can benefit from.
We are constantly using our muscles in our entire mid section to keep us balanced. It’s gentle. It’s very subtle. And, it has some very great, deep, and beneficial ramifications.
No, balance ball chair benefits do not include developing the six pack abdomen of an athlete just from sitting this way (as some ads will tell you). But, you will be making tiny little muscular adjustments constantly. Over time, you will be toning all these supportive muscles with almost no effort.
If you hold a good posture on the chair, this will also cause improved standing and walking posture, as well as balance. This will, in turn, improve your overall balance and stability.
1) A Balance Ball Chair keeps us moving a bit all the time
2) All our muscles readjust (are active) just a bit on a constant basis
3) We are constantly using our muscles
4) Our Balance, Stability, and Walking Confidence improves
Just from sitting on a ball chair instead of a regular chair.
I know. From what you may have read in some other articles and advertisements, balance ball chair benefits may include looking 10 years younger, getting better gas mileage, and improving world peace… Some of the claims are almost this unbelievably absurd.
Here are more Wonderful Benefits you’ll really get:
Yes. One of the best balance ball chair benefits us seniors can experience is the back stretch we can get. If you never tried this, you are going to be Amazed the very first time you do it.
How do you get this great stretch from sitting on the ball?
You have to get off the ball, THEN, lay face down on it.
We get the best feeling back stretch by just gently moving forward and backward a little on the ball. You’ll notice the most wonderful place right away. Your hands and feet will keep you stabile on the ball.
Just lay/hang in that spot for 20 seconds to a minute. Whatever feels good.
Then, slide roll back on to your knees and kneel.
Notice how “opened up” your back feels. Do it again if you want. Or, let that be it for now and do it again later any time you want.
It is amazingly refreshing. And, this stretch opens the spaces between the bones in our backs and takes the pressure off our back bones long enough to do us some real good.
You’ll notice it immediately.
* DO NOT try the stretch below. It is much too hard on old backs. It requires a flexibility most of us no longer have. It can cause pain and damage.
Balance ball chair benefits have often been so overinflated by sales people that too many now tell you the ball does nothing for you.
Who do we believe?
Well, there is one sure way to find out for sure: Sit on the balance ball as your chair for just an hour, or even 20 minutes, each day. Lay on it once or twice a day, as you just saw in the above pictures, for that wonderful feeling stretch.
Then you be the judge.
The proof is in the pudding! Right? You judge for yourself.
Then you write back and tell me how it works. I think, if you’re like most of our readers, that you’re going to be VERY pleasantly surprised.
Not everyone loves sitting on the balance ball chair. Some seniors may find it a little too challenging.
I love it, but, I still mostly use a regular padded seat chair.
The balance ball chair has a special use. It can greatly assist us with:
Even better: It’s FUN and COMFORTABLE to sit on. It keeps us from getting stiff while sitting. It’s a nice soft seat. It has no hard edges to cut into our legs.
We wanted to give you another subjective opinion on the balance ball chair so we searched around a bit and found this cute article by Melanie Pinola that is both a fun easy read and some good “real person” information: “Why I Switched My Office Chair with an Exercise Ball (and What It's Like)”
You don’t have to sit on your ball chair all day long to get enormous benefits. Even just 20 minutes a day can be very beneficial to us seniors. Two hours a day is more than plenty for the experienced. Four is just fine if you are in love with it.
Whatever feels best to you.
Most people who try to use their ball chair too much in the beginning get very uncomfortable because the muscles required to balance all day get more exercise than they are capable of.
So, after a day or two they never use it again.
Start with just 20, or even just 10 minutes a day. Work up to 30 minutes, or, an hour. Watch TV on it. Write at your desk. Peel potatoes in the kitchen.
Don’t just sit there and do nothing. Use it while you are doing something you enjoy and the time will fly by.
I’ve only met a couple of people who use the ball chair as their only chair.
1 - 4 hours a day is great. Once you are used to it. In the beginning, 10 minutes, once or twice a day is plenty. Even 20 minutes twice a day forever can do you some real good.
The balance ball seems more like a beach toy when we first see them. The benefits to us seniors, that we hear about, can be so substantial that they do seem almost unreal. Until we experience them.
It’s almost like a Miracle!
So, let’s take a little reality check on what us seniors may actually look forward to:
There is good news and bad news for you:
The GOOD NEWS:
The balance ball chair benefits we can expect are pretty sweet. If you use the ball right, you can:
The BAD NEWS:
Will it end world hunger? Make you look 20 years younger? Make the days longer? End daylight savings time forever?
No. None of these. Although I’m sure some of the articles and advertisements that want you to buy one can make it seem this way.
The results sometimes seem miraculous. Other times they are just, for lack of a better word: nice.
The balance ball chair benefits are quite subtle in coming, but, they are very noticeable and nice. Things improve gradually. Not overnight. So, have a little patience. Don't rush. Make progress slowly. It won’t take too long before you begin to notice a difference.
All of us here at our office just seem to feel generally better and more refreshed when we use one of these balls for a while each day. Even if it’s just to lay down on and stretch out a couple of times during the day. So refreshing!
Now, let’s take a look at what else we seniors may experience when we use a balance ball chair:
Why are so many of us seniors stooped over when we stand and walk? It's often due to our muscles growing too weak.
If we use the ball as our chair for a couple of hours during the day, it forces us to sit more properly. Taller. Straighter. And, this makes our posture muscles stronger.
For some reason “core” muscles (the muscles in our abdomen and lower back) are the big talk these days.
Because they look really great when they are toned and slim.
But, did you know, sitting on a balance ball chair engages all your “core” muscles (abdomen and lower back)? It gently strengthens them without some kind of dreadful exercise workout.
By sitting on the balance ball for a while each day, these muscles learn to work together to hold you upright more correctly. Over time, they strengthen and your posture improves. Both sitting and standing.
This makes walking and other movements easier for us seniors because you become much more balanced. Like we used to be.
No. Just sitting on the balance ball chair will not make you look like a statue of a Greek God. But, it will improve your posture and sense of well being.
BUT: Don’t over do it. Especially in the beginning.
If you over use the ball as a chair (especially in the beginning) your lazy muscles will get fatigued and cause you to slouch. Which becomes a habit. So, use the ball chair (especially in the beginning) in definite moderation.
You don’t go to the gym and exercise for 8 hours a day. So, don’t make your “ball sitting muscles” do that either.
To reap the greatest benefits, alternate between the ball and your normal chairs. In the beginning, mostly use the normal chairs. 20 minutes on the ball chair each day, in the beginning, will be plenty. Over time, you can use the ball chair longer and longer.
You’ll find after some weeks of doing this that you are sitting straighter, with more ease, in the regular chairs also.
On the ball chair, you’re going to be constantly aware of your posture also. Your muscles will constantly be activated to maintain your posture. And, you’ll find that posture will improve without a lot of effort. If you continually use the ball chair.
Too often we seniors sit practically motionless for most of the day. We are more sedentary than any other age group. Whether working at a desk or watching the TV, internet, chatting with a friend.... We sit without really moving, far too much.
The constant slight motion of the balance ball chair keeps you in constant motion. It’s very subtle. Not like you’re dancing in a studio or night club. Just a very subtle constant change of position. This is amazingly good for circulation, for joint fluidity, and for keeping that stiff feeling at bay when we stand up again.
If you feel like it, you CAN bounce around while you sit. Gently. It’s fun and actively beneficial. It helps keep us seniors from stiffening up.
Did you ever notice that when your body feels good and moves easily that your think more easily and happily? This is because your circulation is much improved.
Traditional desk chairs, even the fancy expensive ones, can reduce circulation. Sitting too much has proven to be seriously bad for us.
Sitting on a balance ball doesn’t seem to have this problem.
First: the ball is soft, cushiony, AND you are constantly making small balancing movement while you sit on it.
Second: You can bounce around on it, randomly, and this mild “exercise” helps keep the circulation moving.
Third: There is no edge on a ball chair to cut off or restrict circulation in your legs.
Fourth: You can lay down over it anytime you want and stretch out wonderfully.
Sitting with good posture, subtly changing positions regularly, (even some gentle enjoyable easy bouncing on the ball) can help reduce the pressure in the lower back and therefore reduce pain from disc compression that bothers so many of us seniors.
Then, a little stretch, laying over the ball, is very rejuvenating.
Again, however, if you over do it (especially in the beginning, like going to a gym too much too soon) you’re not going to be happy down there. Make progress slowly.
Whenever you begin to feel tired on the ball, or, uncomfortable, switch right back to your regular chair(s).
Then, try the ball again a couple or more hours later.
Your ability to use the ball chair for longer periods will increase as your core muscles strengthen.
Did you know that sitting properly in your chair will, over an extended period of time, help keep your spine aligned?
Add the simple “lay on the ball” stretch a couple of times during the day and then see how you feel. I think you’re going to be very pleasantly surprised. Not just by how your back feels, but, by how incredibly easy and pleasant it is to get straighter and feel fresher.
OK, we’re back to the “core” word again.
This one always makes me laugh. For some reason “core” (abdominal) exercise seems to be the very most fashionable thing to do these days, and, the term “core” kind of seems to mean you’re approaching the Holy Grail of physical culture (exercising).
In our day we said, “Our stomach.” Or, “”Our tummy.” Even, “Our midsection.”
Now everything is “Core”. And, we must say it with a very serious and solemn face. OK. Let’s play along. Core…. But, just wait till the grandkids start saying, “Gran Ma, my core hurts.” Instead of, “Gran Ma I have a tummy ache.” It will be hard for me not to laugh….
Well, back to our own “cores”. We seniors (or anyone else) are not to going to be sculpting a statuesque tummy just by sitting on the ball. Sorry. I wish it was true.
However: Balance ball chair benefits for seniors include toning and, yes, strengthening our core muscles. Especially those small deep muscle fibers close to the spine that get so lazy and weak when we slouch in a regular chair, or lean on the backrest of our chair all day long.
This strengthening comes easily and almost effortlessly. That’s why these balance ball chair benefits are especially nice for us seniors. Abdominal exercise workouts don’t seem to be on most seniors' calendars. Am I right?
Those poor little groups of muscle fibers get no work at all in most seniors daily routines. Muscles need some work to get and remain strong. To do their job. To keep you balanced and stable.
Why is this strengthening so important?
Well, First: Losing our balance and falling over due to weak core muscles is no fun at all. Especially for us seniors. We’re a bit more fragile now. Right?
Second: When the spine gets plenty of movement, the fluid between the discs moves more. It increases. This adds cushioning. Flexibility increases. So, it feels better. See??
Keeping those small groups of muscle fibers strong also protects the inner organs.
ALL of that just for sitting on your ball for a couple of hours each day. Lay over the ball for just a couple of minutes each day, and, the balance ball chair benefits multiply!
Practicing balance is very very important as we seniors get older and older. We all know why. We’ve all seen too many of our friends who have have slipped and seriously broken things due to lack of balance.
Improved balance overall is one of the greatest balance ball chair benefits. We’ve been talking about that a lot. AND, it is called the “balance ball chair”. Right?
Did you know that practicing balance in any way improves balance in all things? Isn’t that interesting? Even as seniors.
Sitting on the balance ball chair is no exception to making this improvement.
Our balance mechanisms are in our ears.
As we practice balance in any way, even just sitting on the ball, our ear mechanisms being to coordinate more and more with our muscular system.
The brain becomes more attuned to the signals it is receiving from our ears and our balancing reactions (via the muscles) become more and more responsive. Easier. Instinctive. Soon, effort less.
So, practicing balance on our toes, on one foot, on the ball chair, etc…. ALL work to help improve our overall balance.
After you can sit comfortably on the balance ball, try bouncing (gently) a little bit. See how shifting your weight from side to side, and, forward and backward feels. How leaning forward feels (don’t lean back much. It’s too easy to fall this way).
These little movements will improve your balance even more. PLUS they help keep us seniors from getting stiff when you have to sit for extended periods.
Few things we do these days, physically, are as bad for us as sitting too much and for too long at one time. Especially now that we are senior citizens.
Did you know sitting compresses our lower backs terribly? Actually about three times worse than standing.
“Want to truly “take a load off”? Despite what the phrase suggests, physical therapist Barrett Ford says the worst thing you can do – at least when it comes to the health of your back – is take a seat.”
reference: “‘Take a Load Off’ the Spine by Standing”
You know how, after working at the desk for a long time, you get up and everything takes a moment to two,... or three, to get moving again.?
All this means is that your circulation has been slowed down to the point that the parts are not getting enough food or air. The fluid is also getting squeezed out of the discs in your lower back. It is not good for us! It causes stiffness and discomfort.
Stretching on the ball (simply laying over it and relaxing) can open up our discs. Rehydrate them. Bring fluid (and refreshment) into the discs. And, this stretch feels Good! Amazingly refreshing.
People commonly pay over $100 a session to get professional stretching of this type on a very big machine. And, for some, that is necessary.
Most of us, however, can just lay across our ball. Anytime we want. For FREE. And, get similar results.
For most people just laying flat, face down, chest on the ball, letting your arms and legs hang, for only 30 seconds, is a FANTASTIC stretch that is more refreshing than I can even describe. You have to experience it to actually know how wonderful it is. *
Because of it’s simplicity, comfort, and ease, most seniors don’t even believe it could possibly feel so good. Until they try it.
If you want to go even further, take a look at this article: “Using An Exercise Ball”
* Please remember to have your doctor say it is OK for you to do these stretches before you begin.
Did you know that physical activity increases your thinking ability and academic performance? Did you realize that one of the balance ball chair benefits for seniors is that it keeps our minds active? Who knew?
Think of a time you sat down at your desk, right after a short walk. Or, some time at the gym. Thinking was easier. Quicker. Almost effortless. Right?
It’s the reason so many great thinkers would go for a walk when they had big problems that were hard to solve.
Physical exercise, especially outdoors, refreshes the mind.
Using a balance ball chair brings physical activity to you in your working situation. No, it’s not like walking outside for a mile. But, it helps to keep the circulation moving when you must remain seated for extended periods of time.
With better circulation we get more oxygen and nutrients. Thinking becomes easier and more productive.
"As people age, there can be a decline in thinking skills, however our study shows that getting regular exercise may help slow or even prevent such decline." Yaakov Stern, PhD, of Columbia University in New York
reference: Science Daily
No. Sorry. Not even if you sit on the ball all day every day.
Sitting on a balance ball chair every day does train and tone your core muscles. For sure. Even as seniors we get stronger. That doesn’t, however, translate into beach abs. You know, the kind the sexy 19 year olds have.
It’s true you’ll burn a few calories just sitting on the ball. But, it only amounts to roughly 30 calories a day.
No. The balance ball chair benefits do not include making us seniors look like a teenager again. You’ll need some ab carving exercises to get that tight and slim again. But, you’ll walk taller and look much better than you do right now, just for sitting on that ball chair for a while every day.
If a slimmer tighter looking tummy is something you want to pursue, here is a VIDEO of some very good ball chair exercises for the abs. If you want to have some fun exercising and you really want that super lean and muscular looking waistline, you may want to give these a try.
Here’s the exercise VIDEO you can exercise along with:
Yes, if you’re in an elegantly set up office, you may not like the look of the big plastic ball behind your desk. But, you still want to get the benefits of using a balance ball chair.
There are some very good looking covers for the balls (for under $60) that make it look like a piece of very cool high end furniture. Handsome in any office or home environment.
Even if there were no other balance ball chair benefits for seniors:
It just so happens there are many substantial balance ball chair benefits for seniors as you just learned above.
Here's what you’ll find:
Balance ball chair benefits become very noticeable after you’ve used one for only a short while.
Ready to try one?
You won’t regret it!
Enjoy! ~ William, Fiona, and Charlotte
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