Let’s be honest: It’s difficult for us college students to make room in our schedules for a decent workout. Even with a gym, a track and numerous fitness classes on campus, not everybody has the time or the energy to go for a morning jog.
And it’s not just the lack of free time that’s the problem. As college students, we’re infamous for being generally cash-strapped.
But in a world that thrives on convenience, isn’t there a fast, flexible and cheap way for students to stay fit?
Meet the exercise ball.
Yes, those bulky, oversized spheres might sound annoying and even somewhat dangerous. But surprisingly, the exercise or fitness ball is one of the most effective tools for improving core strength.
The exercise ball was originally used in various physical therapy regimens. In the past few years, however, the popular fitness tool has become an increasingly fundamental part of daily fitness routines.
The exercise ball is easy to use and can be integrated into for various types of workouts.
The simplest and most common exercises include sit-ups, crunches and squats.
But if you’re craving a little more of a challenge, try adding in some weight training, stretching, yoga or even Pilates and you’ve got yourself a solid workout regimen.
The way the exercise ball works is relatively simple. When your body detects the unsteadiness of the ball, it causes your muscles, specifically those located in your core, to engage more to help you remain balanced and still. The exercise ball primarily works the abdomen and the back muscles.
You don’t have to use exercise balls for hardcore workouts, though. In fact, you can use them without even feeling like you’re working out at all.
Many people claim there are numerous benefits to replacing overused computer desk chairs with exercise balls. Sitting on an exercise ball is said to improve back health because your need to balance also works to correct your posture.
And according to a 2007 study by the Mayo Clinic, one of Minnesota’s top medical centers, exercise balls have more than just physical benefits.
The study worked with several groups of students in different elementary schools and replaced regular classroom chairs with exercise balls. The results were fascinating: Exercise balls not only promoted healthy movement but also seemed to improve children’s abilities to concentrate.
Such a find shouldn’t be ignored in the college world. For students stressed and eager to finish late-night essays, exercise balls might just be the key to staying focused and alert. A comfy chair is the kiss of death when it comes to finishing homework. But if we simply replace our sleep-inducing furniture with exercise balls when the time calls, the results could be overwhelmingly positive.
Another study produced similar results. It found that college students preferred exercise balls to regular chairs. The exercise balls not only allowed for comfort but also the ability to focus better, even at a college level.
Of course, college students won’t simply invest in exercise balls because of a few studies. But one of the best reasons to consider purchasing one is simply because they are cheap.
Exercise balls can be purchased online at prices as low as $15, depending on the size. If you plan to buy one, however, make sure to get one that corresponds to your height. As long as you can sit comfortably with your feet on the ground, you’ll know the ball is right for you.
If you’re worried about the exercise balls being able to hold your weight, have no fear. Companies such as Ball Dynamics sell exercise balls specifically designed to carry heavier people.
You don’t need to have much money or time to use the exercise ball to its full potential. But don’t give up on it before even giving it a shot. You might be surprised at what it can do for you, both physically and mentally.
Hannah Muniz is a sophomore majoring in East Asian languages and cultures and creative writing. Her column, “Fit ‘n Fab,” runs Mondays.