Too busy to hit the gym? Grab an exercise ball and squeeze in workout time in the comfort of your own home. Use the ball as a chair while at your computer desk, watching TV, or talking on the phone. Your core muscles will benefit by automatically engaging, even while just sitting still. It’s practically impossible to slouch and relax your entire body, because you would roll off! As long as you maintain good posture, your abs and back muscles will be working together to create a strong core. These five exercises are all done in a sitting position and are easy to fit into a busy day.
1. For mobility in the hips and waist, try doing pelvic circles. Without moving anything above your waist, draw circles with your hips: to the front, to the right, to the back, to the left. Then reverse the direction.
2. To work your inner thighs, straddle the ball with your feet placed in back. Squeeze the ball with your knees. This is also a nice stretch for the hip flexors. (From this same position, you can reach both arms overhead and tilt sideways for an intense stretch that also strengthens the muscles of your waist.)
3. To work your quadriceps, bounce up and down on the ball, pausing in mid-air as if doing a squat. (For best results, keep your knees aligned over your heels, dig your heels into the floor, and try not to lean forward.)
4. For balance training, sit up tall and extend one leg in front of you so that you are balancing on one foot. Repeat, alternating legs. (Extending your arms to the side will aid balance. To add difficulty, cross your arms in front of your chest.
5. To stretch your glutes (and test your balance), cross one foot over the other knee. Lean forward as far as your flexibility allows. Repeat on the other side.
If you suffer from an injury or other health condition, or have any questions regarding the suitability of stability ball training, please consult your doctor before attempting these exercises.