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Exercise Ball Chairs Don’t Work, Look Kind of Silly


Bad news for people who thought they were staving off mushy core muscles and cardiovascular decrepitude by sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair: recent research shows that ball chairs do just about zilch to improve posture, concentration, or general health.

“To be quite frank, I cannot see any advantage or reason for a person to be using an exercise ball as an office chair,” says Jack P. Callaghan, the Canada Research Chair in Spine Biomechanics and Injury Prevention at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, in an interview with the New York Times.

Callaghan and his colleagues recently performed a study in which they asked 14 participants to sit alternately in a standard office chair and on an exercise ball, while measuring the activation of eight muscles and the position of the lumbar spine.

Not only did they not see any advantage in terms of muscle activity or posture, but the exercise ball “increased perceived discomfort.” In other words, sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair is a pain in the rear and looks funny, but probably won’t benefit your health all that much.

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On the other hand, as Tracie Egan Morrissey points out on Jezebel, giggling burns off eight calories, so if you sit on an exercise ball, at least your coworkers’ health might improve.

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We want to hear from you! Do you still love your exercise ball chair? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter, using the hashtag #MakeItHappen.

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(Photo Credit: funnybiz/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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I have been sitting on a ball for the past 7 years, but for very specific reasons.  Nothing nebulous like better posture or improved core strength since those require sustained conscious effort.  I’m somewhat ADHD and the ball lets me keep moving all day, which helps when I’m sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time.  I’d be just as happy (or even better off) with a treadmill desk, but that’s not logistically feasible right now.  If you want… Read more »


So some guy asks 14 of his fellow skeptics if they “think” the chair helps posture. You call that a “study”? Who cares if it does or doesn’t actually do anything? If someone likes the feel of sitting on a ball chair over another chair, maybe that’s the reason so many people like them.

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