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Sitting on a Swiss ball can improve your fitness.
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A Swiss ball, or exercise ball, is one of those pieces of exercise equipment you can find in nearly every gym and for good reason -- they are relatively inexpensive and have a variety of uses. One such use, other than exercise of course, is as an office chair. In a growing trend, Swiss balls are replacing office chairs by poeple in hopes of improving their fitness while sitting at their desk. Before you ditch your chair for a ball, take a few things into consideration to determine which is best for you.
Pros of a Swiss Ball
A Swiss ball in place of a desk chair will not only make your office space look a little hipper, but it can also help improve your fitness. The Mayo Clinic notes that sitting on a Swiss ball can encourage good posture, promote core strength and give you more freedom to move while you're seated. All of these are very beneficial if you suffer from back pain or if you tend to get a stiff back after sitting at your desk all day.
Cons of a Swiss Ball
A Swiss ball may be fun to sit on and encourage core strength but it may also be a hazard. Because a Swiss ball is indeed a ball, it has a tendency to roll. This, combined with the instability of the ball can lead to a risky workday, especially during that mid-afternoon slump when you may not be at the top of your game. According to the U.S. Army Medical Department, active sitting, such as that on a Swiss ball, increases the rate of muscle fatigue due to constantly challenging your balance. Lack of back and arm support on the ball may increase muscle fatigue, leading to back pain by the end of the work day. While Swiss balls do come in a variety of sizes, they are not adjustable.
Pros of a Desk Chair
A desk chair provides stable support for your body all day long. Ergonomically designed chairs should position your body perfectly to reduce stress on your joints and muscles. The UCLA Spine Center suggests that lower-back support is essential to minimize the load and strain on your back. This type of support can be found in a good desk chair. Most desk chairs are adjustable, giving you the opportunity to adjust them to the perfect height. If you happen to fall asleep at your desk, a chair will help keep you safe in your seat.
Cons of a Desk Chair
A desk chair enables you to have poor posture and hunch or slump your back as you sit at your desk. The support provided by a chair can also be a drawback simply because your body doesn't have to actively work to sit and maintain posture. If you don't have the luxury of a good, well-fitted chair, your chair could be extremely uncomfortable and leave you stiff and sore by the end of the day.
Swiss balls and desk chairs both have pros and cons. What works well for your co-worker may not work so well for you. If you have any kind of musculoskeletal problems or past back or hip injuries, a ball may not offer enough support for you. If you're not sure which to go with, make it a point to try them both out before committing to one or the other. Or rather than just choosing one, keep your work days exciting and change up your "chair" throughout the day or week. Maybe use your desk chair in the morning and a ball after lunch, or alternate every other day.