Exercise balls are always on top when it comes to choosing your favorite gym equipment. It’s fun to use and engages your core in the workout. But have you ever thought about using exercise balls in the place of an office chair? Can it positively impact your posture and spine like a standing desk?
Exercise balls require constant engagement from your abdominal muscles. It helps reduce any lower body pain you acquire from sitting for a long hour. But standing desks are better for long-term comfort with the same positive results.
There’s no way you would opt for an expensive standing desk if stability balls provide the same results. So, before you commit to any of these options, read this article till the end.
Exercise Ball VS Standing Desk – A Brief Overview
If you are wondering whether we mean the same exercise balls you see in every other gym or yoga class, then yes. It’s the same one. If you hate sweating while working out, stability balls should be your top pick.
And we don’t need to explain what a standing desk is. It’s pretty much a fundamental part of any modern and aesthetically pleasing workplace.
Have a look at their core differences.
|Impact on body
|Builds core strength
|Strengthens leg muscles
|Improves sitting posture
|Improves standing posture
|Uncomfortable if used longer
|No discomfort (height is adjustable).
|Only one position(sitting)
|Can change positions
|Risk of falling off
|Risk of inflammation in veins (due to standing too long).
Exercise Ball Pros & Cons
It’s difficult to make any judgment through the comparison table. But If we look at the core benefits and major disadvantages of both options, it might be easier on your side. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.
1. Building Core Strength
An exercise ball engages our abdominal muscles better than a regular chair. You are constantly trying to balance your body to avoid falling off. That requires you to move your core muscles and find a balance to stay on the ball for a long time.
According to the Canadian Chiropractic Association, using sitting balls instead of chairs helped patients with lower back pain. If you suffer from mild cases of back and neck pain, switching to an exercise ball might eliminate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on your body.
On top of that, having a strong core enables us to avoid spine injuries and other kinds of musculoskeletal disorders. It happens because your core now supports the pelvis, hips, and spine better than ever. So you can enjoy a more active or productive day without worrying about losing balance.
When it comes to pricing, an exercise ball comes nowhere near an ergonomic desk or chair. Even the most high-quality, long-lasting sitting ball won’t cost over $50. So, less money is at stake if this tool doesn’t help you.
On the other hand, a standard standing desk alone (we are not counting the chair) will cost you over $250. And the cost can go up to $1000 if you want the label of a top-notch brand.
When we talk about affordability, exercise balls definitely win.
3. Eliminate Muscle Fatigue
One major issue with sitting for a long time is pressing the soft tissues against a hard surface. It affects the blood flow in your pelvis area and results in muscle fatigue pretty soon. And what happens when such discomfort arises? You guessed it. The urge to slump over the desk or hunch your shoulder becomes too hard to avoid.
Exercise balls help you escape this sad consequence. Since the sitting surface is round and unbalanced, your hips don’t have to stay pressed against a surface. It’s constantly moving around the surface, letting enough blood flow toward the pelvis area. As you don’t have fatigue, you can maintain a good posture for a longer period.
4. Burns More Calories
You can burn more calories using a sitting ball instead of a standing desk or a regular chair. How’s that?
You see, an exercise ball is a common piece of equipment inside any gym. It not only strengthens your lower back but helps you lose some weight as well. According to research conducted by Harvard University, you can burn extra 24 calories every three hours in front of a standing desk. So, that gives us 8 calories (extra) per hour. It’s not much.
But stability or exercise balls can burn up to 112 to 165 calories depending on your body type, age, and sex. Considering you usually burn from 60 to 80 calories sitting on a chair ( per hour), exercise balls provide more fruitful results than a convertible desk.
5. Easy Work-Out
What can be easier than bouncing on the exercise ball you are already sitting on? Yes, forget about the 5-minute rules where you have to deliberately get up for a stretching break. Not everyone can follow a workout routine every hour of the shift.
Instead, you can rely on your exercise ball for a quick workout session whenever you remember. Bouncing, ball squat, ball mach, and jackknife are some amazing workouts to try with a stability ball. Not to mention, it’s way more fun exercising with a tool.
Even though exercise balls are super affordable and fun to use, some researchers warn us against using it in place of an office chair. Here’s why.
1. Risk Of Injury
If you suffer from chronic lower-back pain, you will have difficulty balancing the core on a stability ball. It’s still doable if you have a partner. But it’s highly risky to sit on a stability ball for 8 whole hours.
You can easily lose balance and fall on the floor. Needless to say, your health condition will get worse.
It sounds a bit contrary to what we said earlier. But hear us out first. It’s completely okay to use the exercise ball for a short time. It does what it says. But when you use it for a long time, the results can go in another direction.
We are saying that you get an armrest, neck rest, and cushioned seat with an office chair. Those things are necessary to hold your body in place as you immerse yourself in the workload.
But that’s not available on a stability ball. You need to constantly move your abdominal muscles to find a balance. It can get tiring and uncomfortable when we see the long-term picture.
Standing Desk Pros & Cons
A standing desk provides almost every benefit of an exercise ball on some level. It helps you increase the per-hour calory burn, improves your posture, and keeps you away from spinar injuries. But we will only specify the benefits only available to a standing desk.
1. Safe For Longer Use
Standing desks don’t have as much risk as an exercise ball. If your lower back is not strong, you can start by standing for 5 minutes per hour. Then gradually increase the time limit up to 20 minutes per hour.
Once you feel discomfort, you can just sit and go by your day. But that’s not the case with an exercise ball. If you are planning to use it in the place of an office chair, you have to adjust your body to the instability. If you are not careful, there’s a high risk you will be on the ground crying for help.
2. Adjustable Height
One major benefit of using a standing desk is that you can pick any position you like. Sitting too long? Just get up and let the desk rise to your level. Do the opposite when your legs hurt due to standing after 20 to 30 minutes. It’s a nice balance.
However, exercise balls constantly require you to balance while sitting. If you want to stand up, the ball will not rise up to your level. So, you literally have to take a break from work altogether.
It’s really not convenient if you don’t have the time to take 5-minute breaks every half an hour.
3. Looks More Professional
Let’s be honest. You don’t want your colleagues to run into you as you are balancing yourself in a stability ball and working. It’s just not appropriate for a professional setting. It might be okay if the office environment is super friendly or you work remotely.
But apart from those cases, using a standing desk is more suitable. It will bring you the benefits of not living a sedentary lifestyle like your workmates without bringing too much attention.
1. Big Investment
Price is definitely a big factor to consider while buying a standing desk. It doesn’t come cheap. Apart from that, the installation is tricky. You might need a partner to help you out. Furthermore, expect the desk to show errors or glitches once in a while. If the manual doesn’t help sufficient answers, you have to spend extra money on a professional.
As you can see, it will take a heavy toll on your pocket.
2. Transition Time
With an exercise ball, there’s no transition time. You just hop on it and get the work done. But you have to be patient with a standing desk. Even though the transition usually takes less than 30 seconds, it’s still frustrating in high-paced work-station.
3. Risk Of Inflammation
There’s a proper way to use your standing desk. Many new users think it’s okay to stand in front of the desk for hours without a break. Apart from the fact that it’s almost impossible for ordinary people, it’s extremely dangerous. Standing too long causes inflammation in your veins (specifically in your legs). That’s because it’s hard for blood to reach every corner of the body when you don’t shift positions. Your feet will feel extremely swollen and sore afterward.
Should You Choose An Exercise Ball Over A Standing Desk?
The choice should be completely yours. Both exercise balls and standing desks have the same goal. That is to help you escape a sedentary lifestyle.
But some minor details can help you make a decision. For example, if you have a budget constraint, you should definitely go for a stability ball right now. There’s no need to wait till you have enough money to go for a high-quality standing desk. But there’s a lot of debate going on among chiropractors and doctors.
On the contrary, a standing desk will be more comfortable if you have acute lower body pain. It’s 100% safe to use for everybody. No matter your height, you can always adjust it to keep a straight posture, both sitting and standing. Hope that helps you make the right decision.
Before You Go!
There’s always a lot of curiosity regarding how many calories a standing desk burns. After all, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose some weight without much effort. If you are on your journey to a fit body, see our discussion on whether a standing desk will help you lose weight or not.