Among my favorite pieces of home workout equipment is that of using the Swiss ball, or exercise ball. It’s essentially a massive ball that you can use in a myriad of ways for workouts. But, what are some realistic benefits of using the Swiss ball in your home?
Actually, the range of what you can do with one of these things is quite massive. In fact, it’s probably one of the most versatile pieces of home exercise equipment I own.
And better yet, it’s relatively easy to use. Not to mention how much more comfortable the surface of the ball is when doing specific exercises.
How the Swiss Ball Benefits the Home Gym
I remember when my friend wanted to get a Swiss ball several years ago. I kind of scoffed at the idea and really didn’t think it was going to make much of a difference.
However, after using it for a while, I began to realize just how effective the ball is for a variety of workouts and practical in-house use.
So, why should you consider getting an exercise ball for the home?
1. Micro-activations of Core Muscles
First of all, when balancing on the Swiss ball, you’re constantly activating a wide scope of core muscles. These micro-activations are what keep you balanced on an uneven surface.
Even if you simply sit on the ball, your body is constantly working to make sure you don’t fall off.
Will you get abs of steel just by sitting on the ball? Not necessarily. But, your core will improve the longer you use it, especially if you mix in an exercise routine.
2. More Efficient than a Bench
One of the greatest benefits for me while on the Swiss ball is by using it as a bench. Instead of a full-length plank to lay on when doing a press, I stabilize myself on the ball.
Not only does it give me something to use while performing dumbbell flies, but it also activates my glutes, obliques, and thighs to remain balanced.
This is achieved by laying on the ball with it squarely between your shoulder blades while bracing your body with your legs while laying down.
Unlike a traditional bench that lets you relax most of your body when laying down, the Swiss ball forces you to use those muscles. Otherwise, you’ll hit the floor when trying to press some weight.
Now, I doubt you could use it as a bench if your pressing 200+ pounds. It would probably just pop, sending you to the floor at a rapid pace. However, I use 20-pound dumbbells quite often while on the ball.
3. A Balance “Chair” for Visitors
Aside from the exercise aspect of the Swiss ball, mine is often used as a chair. This wasn’t intentional, but it seems that anytime someone comes over and sees the ball, they need to sit on it.
Which is fine, considering I don’t have a lot of chairs or couches in my house. In fact, I’ve used it several times for that purpose as well.
And when you’re sitting on the ball, it’s hard not to bounce or play around, which winds up burning a few calories.
4. Adaptable to a Plethora of Workouts
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of using the Swiss ball is how easy it is to adapt to a variety of workouts.
Need some strength added to your lower back? Do some lower back extensions. Want to intensify a push-up? Try doing some declines while putting your feet on the ball.
The range of activity the exercise ball offers is staggering. From ways to balance during a plank to overall core workouts from doing jackknives, it’s quite a versatile piece of exercise equipment.
In many exercises, you can easily increase the difficulty just by trying to balance on the ball.
5. Improves Back Pain Issues
Another aspect of the Swiss ball is how it can aid in back pain. Through proper use, it can help by increasing abdominal and back strength to improving posture and stability.
In fact, doing sets of lower back extensions has made a huge difference for my back issues in the past.
The Swiss ball is simply more comfortable to lay your torso on when doing some of these exercises as well. Instead of a wooden plank or a semi-cushioned bench, you really don’t feel the surface of the ball.
6. Bouncing for Steps
Is it cheating if you’re in a step competition on Fitbit and spend time bouncing on the ball?
The Fitbit will count steps as you bounce, but only if it’s a serious bounce. In other words, a simple bounce isn’t going to be enough. You have to really put in the effort if you want to get some steps recorded.
At any rate, bouncing on the Swiss ball requires the use of your thighs, and to a lesser extent, your core. So, I really don’t think it’s cheating if you bounce instead of walk.
Case in point, I wanted to see how many steps I could get in a 10-minute window by bouncing. I discovered I could get more steps by going for a walk in the backyard during the same time period.
However, when I stood up from the ball, my thighs felt like I ran a marathon.
7. It’s Not That Expensive
One of the best benefits for many people for getting a Swiss ball is the fact that it’s not an overly expensive piece of equipment. In fact, I bought the biggest ball they had at Target for $25.
And you can get even cheaper balls if you go to Five Below for exercise gear.
Different brands will have varying prices. So, keep in mind that you might get what you pay for. But, I’ve been using Spri stability balls for quite some time, and I definitely got my $25 out of the last one.
I don’t think there is a single day that goes by that someone isn’t sitting, bouncing, exercising, or otherwise playing with the Swiss ball in my house.
The Value is Worth the Cost
The sheer amount of use the Swiss ball gets here makes it one of the best investments in terms of exercise equipment. As I said, almost everyone uses it at one point every day.
This includes kids, friends, family, and myself. In fact, my oldest daughter prefers to sit on it rather than the couch.
There have been a few times when I debated on using it in my office while I work. But alas, my office is just a bit too small to really fit comfortably in front of my desk.
Needless to say, it’s hard to envision my living room without having a balance ball nowadays. Everyone was pretty upset when the cats killed the last one.
The bottom line is how much value you get from the cost of a Swiss ball. It’s more than just a piece of exercise equipment. For me, it’s functional furniture.
Never Underestimate the Benefits of a Swiss Ball
I never thought about how many benefits would come from having the Swiss ball at home. I thought it was going to be one of those things that sat in the corner and collected dust.
The fact of the matter is that the ball probably sees more activity than my couch, TV, and Xbox combined. Whether it’s being used for actual exercise or just as a seat in the living room, it’s a heavily used item.