Most people ignore the big bouncy balls at the gym. Balance and stability are two important elements for everything we do, be it the regular chores that we do every day to even exercises. These bouncy balls also known as stability balls, exercise balls, balance balls or fitness balls not just for fun to sit and bounce around. The balance ball exercises, improves the strength, cardio endurance and balance, which makes it an important tool in your daily exercise schedule.
Understanding our body in detail is essential before you begin any balance exercises for the elderly or even for the youngsters. Every joint in our body is made up of ligaments and tendons that are connected to all the muscles that work day in and day out to keep your body upright and in correct position. As you strengthen the connective tissues and the stabilizer muscles, your body will perform better. The best part of improving your balance and stability is that you don’t have to do intense or advanced exercises. The balance ball exercises are more than enough to work out all the different areas of the body and these exercises are simple to do and also easy to follow.
Getting used to the balance ball is crucial because it is unstable, but once you get control on how to use the balance ball, then you can work out all the areas of the body. The following exercises are designed just to do that. If you have never used a balance ball, then try sitting next to a wall or try holding a chair for balance.
Take advice from your physician whenever you start a new exercise or if you are having any injuries or medical conditions.
- The first exercise is to warm up your body and prepare for the workout
Perform each workout for 3 sets each as shown and if you are a beginner, start with 1 set and gradually work your way up as and when you get comfortable
Hold a wall for balance if required and use good shoes or a sticky mat to prevent slipping
Skip any exercises that may cause any discomfort or pain
- A Ball circle is a great balance exercises that loosen ups the body and makes you get used to the balance ball. The circles can be big or small according to your comfort level.
- As you get warmed up you can go deeper into each circle.
This can be challenging. Sit on the ball and place your hands behind the head, on the ball or hold on to a wall if you need support initially
- Slowly move the hips in a circle towards the right, arching a little when your hips circle to the back and then curve the back when your hips circle to the front
- Make small circles initially and as you get comfortable make large circles
Focus on contracting the abs as you roll the ball forward
- Repeat this for 20 circles to the right and then to the left
- Ball marches are the best way to challenge your balance. This balance and stability workout involves taking one foot off the floor and forcing the standing foot to keep you stable. Hold onto a wall if required.
- Sit on the ball with the spine straight and the abs held in.
Now, the next step can be challenging. Take the hands behind the head or keep them on the ball and lift the right foot a few inches off the ground.
- Continue and alternate by lifting the right leg and then lifting the left leg.
As you get comfortable with the balance ball exercises, you can lift your knees higher and march faster.
- If you feel comfortable, you can add some bounce to the ball.
Repeat for 1-2 minutes
Seated Ball Balance
- Seated ball balance is that exercise that will really test your balance, so be patient. Only with regular practice you can perfect this one.
- Sit on the ball with your spine erect and abs in.
- Place your hands on the ball, behind the head or hold onto the wall for balance.
Lift the left foot and hold it in air for about 5 seconds.
- Lower and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat for 5-10 reps.
- Focus on contracting the abs to keep balance.
- Ball walks can also be very difficult for beginners. So take your time and with practice you can perfect this step. Start with just walking halfway down to test your core strength before you go down all the way.
- Sit on the ball and put your hands on the ball, behind your head or hold onto a wall for balance.
- Start with contracting the abs and slowly walk your feet forward.
As you being the walk, slowly roll your back down on the ball.
Keep walking and rolling until you can hold your head and shoulders on the ball and the hips lifted in a bridge position.
- Walk all the way back until you are seated again.
- Repeat for 10-15 reps.
- You will see that your ball will move every time you walk out and in. This is normal. Adjust the ball if you find you are not aligned and going astray.
- For ball squats, you should place an exercise ball between you and the wall and stand in a standard squat position. Ball squat helps focus on the lower body and is great at strengthening the quadriceps and the butt. This form of exercise is a great balance exercise for seniors if you have knee and back issues. By using the ball you can relieve the pressure from your back and your knees making it safe for squats.
- Place the ball between your lower back and the wall holding your feet out slightly.
Do not place your feet too close to the wall as you might strain the knees.
Lower the bodies towards the floor in a squat position as you constantly push back into the ball.
- Keep your weight on your heels as you try to push back and try not to lock the knees when you stand.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
- To increase the intensity of the workout, you can hold hand weights.
Pelvic Tilt on the Ball
- Pelvic tilts are a subtle form of balance ball exercises. They gently work the abs and the lower back. Doing these exercises on the ball increases some balance and engage all the stability muscles in the lower body.
- Sit on the ball and slowly start walking with your feet moving forward until your head and the shoulders are supported on the ball. The knees should be bent at 90 degrees and your hips lifted.
- Arch the back and move the hips back and towards the ball. This move should be small and faint. It should be enough to make you feel the stretch in the abs.
- Gently curve the hips up towards you without rolling your body on the ball. The ball should be held stable while you move.
- Continue to squeeze the hips up and down for 15 reps.
Leg Press on the Ball
- Leg press on the ball is a great exercise, but if you have knee problems this workout may not be of any use. The key to this exercise is to keep the weight on your heels instead of your toes, which can strain your knees.
- Sit on the ball and slowly move your feet forward until you are at an incline on the ball. The head and shoulders should be off the ball and your knees should be bent.
Bend the knees as though you are going into a squat.
- Press through the heels to come back to the start.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
- To get to a correct position can be little tricky in this balance ball exercise. You may have to adjust the ball several times before you get the right kind of support.
- Place the ball under the hips and lower torso with your face lying down.
- Rest on your knees or your toes with the knees held straight, which can be difficult.
- Place the hands under the chin and the elbows bent.
- Roll forward over the ball and then contract the lower back to lift the chest off the balance ball.
- Bring your shoulders up until your body is in straight line.
- Repeat this for 12-15 times
- Hips lifts are a nice balance ball exercise that workouts the glutes and the hamstring.
- Lie on the floor with the heels placed on the ball.
- Keep your abs tight. Slowly lift your hips off the floor and squeeze the glutes.
- Keep going until your body is in straight line.
- Hold on for a few seconds and lower. Repeat for 15 times.
- To make the balance exercises for elderly easier, place the ball under the knees instead of under the heels and keep your hands on the floor. To make it difficult cross your arms over your chest.
Make sure you select the correct size stability ball, as correct equipment is crucial for any workout. Sit on a ball and make sure your hips and knees are at right angles with the floor. Reps and sets will depend on the practice and your fitness levels. But, it is recommended doing 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps. Gradually increase the reps as you gain in confidence and after your fitness level has improved.
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