Using an Exercise Ball

Using an Exercise Ball

Portable, fun, and easy to use, exercise balls are the perfect RV camper's workout tool.  With this one piece of equipment, you can strengthen and tone your upper body, core, and lower body, and improve your balance and coordination.  Because the ball requires that you constantly work to balance yourself, it gives a great abdominal and core workout.  Plus, the ball is inflatable, so it's easy to squash and store in a small space.

Getting Started
To start, find a clear, clean area of floor that's about eight feet long.  Crouch or kneel at one end of this area with your ball in front of you.  Gently extend your body forward onto the ball until the ball is under your belly and your legs are out straight behind you (use your hands on the floor to balance yourself).  

This is your starting position.  From here, it's easy to walk yourself forward with your hands until the ball is under your knees or ankles, the perfect starting position for push-ups.  Or you can stay right here for arm and leg lifts or Superman moves.

To get out of your starting position, roll yourself backwards (feet first) until your feet land on the floor.  If you want to do moves on your back, start by sitting on the ball, then walk your feet forward, leaning back slightly, until the ball is under your back.

Upper Body
The ball lets you do everything at your own level, from push-ups to hand stands. Try doing push-ups with the ball under your knees, under your shins, and under your ankles and you'll get a sense of how it all works.  Push-ups are easiest under your knees and hardest under your ankles.  This is generally true for all ball exercises -- the farther the ball is from your core, the tougher the exercise will be.  A good beginner exercise is to lie in the starting position and life one arm straight ahead (like Superman when he's flying), then the other.  Then do each leg.  Then see if you can extend your left arm and right leg together; then your right arm and left leg.  

The ball is ideal for doing crunches because you can set your own difficulty.  To start, sit on the ball, then slide forward until the ball is at your lower back.  Set your feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart.  Holding your arms at your side (easiest), across your chest, or behind your head (hardest), lean back about 45 degrees, then crunch forward.  You can also use the ball to do oblique and side crunches.

Lower Body
Many lower body exercises involve using the ball in a standing position.  You'll improve your poster and balance if you hold the ball over your head while doing squats or lunges.  For a powerful hip strengthening move, try lying flat on your back on the floor with the ball under your knees.  Lift one leg until your foot is centered on the ball -- this is the leg that you'll be working.  Press with that leg, sending your other foot into the air above you, until your back forms a straight line from your shoulders (still on the floor) to your hips.  Use your arms for balance.  Lower and repeat, then change legs.

There are thousands of exercises to do on the ball, so don't stop until you've found a routine full of moves you love.  In no time, you'll notice the benefits of having a stronger core when it's easier to lift your groceries, bend over, or help your grandchild up the stairs.  With its multitude of uses, the exercise ball really is an all-in-one home gym.  You're going to love it!
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