Exercise Balls: New Office Chair or Just Another Trend?
August 07, 2020
With ergonomics on the forefront of innovation in workspaces, different workspaces and office chair trends are popping up everywhere! In this article we’ll be discussing whether an exercise ball is ergonomically sound or just another trend.
Finding the Right Office Chair
When it comes to finding the right office chair, there seems to be a myriad of options available in the market. With ergonomics being in the forefront of innovation, it seems like ideas, designs and all kinds of different office chair alternatives are everywhere! But what about unlikely trends such as an exercise ball? Does using something that wasn’t initially made to be a chair work as an alternative option to an actual office chair? In this article we’ll be investigating the exercise ball. Will it work? Read on to find out whether they do more harm than good!
Do Exercise Balls Work as Office Chairs?
Popular opinions on using an exercise ball instead of an office chair often state that it’s better to use an exercise ball because of the negative effects of sitting down too much. By opting for an exercise ball, you activate your core and ensure that you no longer suffer the negative effects of sitting down for too long. Claimed to be an ergonomic option, let’s look at the facts and determine whether these are grounded on science or just another trend. To be able to determine if using an exercise ball is effective we’ll be looking into the 3 claimed benefits: improved posture, more energy and better balance.
Does using an exercise ball improve your posture? While sitting on a round surface may force you to straighten your back in order to maintain your balance, a study has actually found that it does very little to help improve your posture in the long run. According to the study an exercise ball “does not greatly alter the manner in which an individual sits, yet it appears to increase the level of discomfort.” Not only does it not help your posture, the discomfort it causes can actually do more harm than good. Discomfort doesn’t only affect your focus at work, it can also negatively affect your back if you use it for a prolonged period of time.
Does using an exercise ball increase your energy levels? One of the reasons switching to an exercise ball has been made popular is the claim that it’s a great alternative to combat a sedentary lifestyle and can help boost energy levels. Science however doesn’t agree with this theory. According to a 2015 study, all effort applied to sitting on an exercise ball is all functional. This means that it doesn’t activate or stimulate your muscles, making any claims for it to help your health and energy totally false. According to the study it is “unlikely to be effective in combating sedentary work risk factors”, further making theories of it being an ergonomic option wrong.
Will switching to an exercise ball improve your balance? An unstable seat might force you to adjust the way you sit to force you to stay balanced but it does not actually help improve your balance. According to a study, it does nothing to help improve your overall spine stability. It actually does more harm than good, by trying to stay balanced on the ball you actually put a lot of strain on your lower back- leading to discomfort and possible problems in the future.
Based on these 3 debunked benefits, it’s clear that the exercise ball should remain for what it’s named for, for exercise and not for long hours of work. Using something that isn’t meant to be a chair can lead to discomfort and even medical complications in your future.
Now that we’ve debunked the exercise ball as a viable office chair, exactly what is considered a good ergonomic option? You don’t need to go back to your old office chair. Just because the exercise ball is out, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better alternative out there.
Take a look at the innovative Wobble Stool from FlexiSpot, it takes the trope of the gym ball and transforms it into a completely ergonomic alternative. Unlike the exercise ball, it has a stable base that adjusts to you. What makes it effective is the fact that it’s height adjustable and moves with you instead of against you. This provides you stability and proper support.
If the Wobble Stool isn’t to your liking, it’s always best to opt for a truly ergonomic office chair. The Ergonomic Office Chair OC3B is a great example of the perfect ergonomic office chair! It provides support for your lower back and neck. It’s curved backrest encourages proper posture. What makes an ergonomic office chair effective is that it provides you support and helps promote comfort, especially when you’re spending long hours in front of your screen. The OC3B also adjusts to you- with an adjustable backrest, armrest and lock-in tilt position, you can customize it to your preference and needs.
Whatever office chair you choose, always remember the importance of ergonomics in it’s design. Stray away from trends and stick to chairs that are backed by sound science. For more tips on lifestyle and more, check out the FlexiWellness Center.