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Exercise Balls for Obese People

author image Jessica Owens
Based in Denver, Jessica Owens is a yoga teacher and a writer. She began writing in college for the school newspaper and currently writes for online publications about health and wellness. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamilton College in 2009.
Exercise Balls for Obese People
Women in a gym class holding exercise balls Photo Credit Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Being obese can make a person feel self-conscious and uncomfortable when exercising, especially in a gym. Exercise balls for obese people are great tools they can use in the gym or at home. It’s important to find exercises that give obese people fitness results, but are not so challenging they lose confidence. Exercise balls provide support while doing a variety of strengthening, toning, stretching and balancing exercises.

What Size Ball Should You Use?

Exercise balls come in a variety of sizes ranging from 35 to 85 cm. When sitting on an exercise ball, the feet should be planted on the floor and the knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Obese people should sit on several balls to find the one that works best. Core stabilization and strengthening exercises can be done while sitting on an exercise ball. They can use smaller exercise balls for leg lifts, for range of motion exercises and for isometric holds by squeezing the ball between their arms or legs.

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Achieve a Well-Rounded Workout

When obese people first start using exercise balls, it’s best to start with a short session, five minutes or more depending on fitness level. It's good to add a few minutes to the routine each week as the individual builds endurance. During the first week, obese people should do basic exercises such as sitting on the ball upright with feet planted on the floor to build muscle awareness of good posture. Sitting on the ball also helps improve balance and core stabilization. With progress, obese people can use the ball to aid in pushups, crunches, squats and leg lifts. There are many online resources, such as obesityhelp.com, that give exercise ball workouts.

Improve Flexibility for Optimal Health

Flexibility is an important component of overall fitness. Having flexibility increases range of motion, prevents injuries and reduces tension and stress stored in muscles. Obese people can do simple exercises with the exercise ball to improve flexibility. For example, lie on top of the ball belly up to open up the front side of the body, including chest and shoulders. This will help counteract poor posture. Obese people often can’t touch their toes and have trouble bending over, so they should use exercise balls to stretch their hamstrings, arms and back. For example, stand with feet hip-width apart and place hands shoulders-width apart on the ball. Roll the ball out while hinging at the waste and maintaining a straight back.

Tips for Safety

If obese people feel unstable using the exercise ball, they can press it against a wall to prevent it from moving. When doing crunches on the ball or other exercises, they might want to hook their feet under something stable, like a large piece of furniture to prevent the ball from rolling around. To prevent low back injuries and to improve stability, obese people should engage abdominal muscles during all of the exercises performed with the ball.

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