The American Council on Exercise considers the stability ball an effective tool for strengthening your abdominals and other core muscles. Stability balls, also known as fit balls, are used in fitness classes, weight rooms and home gyms. They can make any exercise more challenging and provide many benefits when used regularly.
Improve Spinal Stability
Using a stability ball may lead to improved stability of the spine and reduce the risk of back pain in sedentary individuals, according to a study published in the May 2006 edition of "The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research." In that study, 20 sedentary individuals were randomly assigned to an experimental group that did stability ball training twice a week for 10 weeks, or to a control group. The group that used the stability ball on a regular basis saw improvements in spinal stability. Researchers concluded that use of a stability ball might benefit individuals who spend a lot of time sitting or who are prone to back pain.
Increase Muscle Fibers Used
John Porcari, professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, claims that by doing traditional exercises -- such as crunches -- on a stability ball, you work more muscle fibers than you would performing those exercises on the floor. Porcari, writing for "Fitness Magazine," claims more muscle fibers are activated as you struggle to maintain control on the ball's unstable surface.
Aid in Sports Performance
The soft, inherently unstable surface of the ball activates the entire core structure. This strengthens the muscles of your core, improves proprioception -- or awareness of your body as it moves through space -- and improves posture, balance and coordination. These are skills that translate into improved sports and fitness performance and better protection from injury.