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The Swiss Ball exercise

I watch an exercise show on TV everyday and try to do the exercises with them. Sometimes they use a Swiss ball. Those exercises look more difficult so I haven't tried them. Is there any real advantage to doing the ball exercises? Am I missing out something important here?

The Swiss Ball exercise program has become very popular over the last 10 years. Many ball exercises have been used to improve muscle tone, strength, and stability. The exercises are especially targeted at folks with back pain. The ball helps gain strength in the core muscles of the trunk and abdomen. Strengthening the core seems to help improve spine stability.

The ball can also be used to strengthen the legs, arms, and trunk. A ball exercise program makes it possible to strengthen at home without a lot of equipment or a membership in a health club. It is lightweight and easy to use in a limited amount of space.

Keeping an exercise diary may be helpful. You can record what exercises you've done, how often, and how many. The goal is to increase the intensity of the exercises while decreasing the number of repetitions and sets done daily.

Safety is important so you'll want to set up your space to avoid any problems. Make sure the ball is inflated enough to be firm and supportive. Clear the area from any furniture that might get in your way. Following a program on TV may not be at your level, so start slowly and work up gradually. Sometimes using a mirror can be very helpful.

Paul Marshall, PhD, and Bernadette Murphy, PhD. Self-Report Measures Best Explain Changes in Disability Compared with Physical Measures After Exercise Rehabilitation for Chronic Low Back Pain. In Spine. February 1, 2008. Vol. 33. No. 3. Pp. 326-338.