If you’re tired of the same old workout, a stability ball is an inexpensive way to shake things up. Add fun and variety to your routine while you improve your coordination and strengthen your core.

Although it’s often called a Swiss ball because it was used for physical therapy in Switzerland, this equipment was invented by a plastics manufacturer in Italy. Over the years, it has become popular for yoga, Pilates, weight training, and more.

Take a look at this quick introduction to exercise balls. You’ll learn how to get started and how to target the body parts you want to tone.

Introduction to Stability Balls

1. Understand the theory. Working out on an unstable ball rather than a flat surface stimulates the communication between your brain and muscles. This gives you greater balance and muscle control.

2. Appreciate the benefits. In addition to balance and strength, you’ll also achieve better posture and flexibility. Almost any exercise can be adapted for using the ball so you can use it as part of your weight loss plans, aerobic conditioning, or weight training.

3. Enjoy the convenience. Exercise balls are inexpensive and lightweight. Once they’re deflated, they’re easy to store away or take with you for travel.

4. Stay safe. Buy an anti-burst ball that will deflate slowly if punctured. Check for any signs of wear or stress before each use.

Getting Started with Stability Balls

1. Select the right size. Pick the correct size for your height. When your ball is inflated, ensure your hips are level with your knees and your feet are flat on the floor when you sit on it.

2. Practice lying on the stability ball. Rest your fingers and toes on the floor. Once you’re comfortable, raise your legs and arms.

3. Practice sitting. Continue until you feel steady with your arms and legs raised out in front of you.

4. Learn correct form. Videos, books, and classes can all help you master good posture. Slow down if you have difficulty balancing.

Targeted Exercises Using Stability Balls

1. Stretch out. Performing your regular stretches over your ball will increase your range of motion. Try a forward bend holding the ball against your torso between your arms and knees.

2. Strengthen your abs. Exercise balls are especially effective for targeting your midsection. You can sit on it while you watch TV or hold it between your legs while you do crunches.

3. Work your back. A strong back protects you from many injuries. Do your usual yoga cat and cow poses with your hands placed on your ball in front of you.

4. Tone your shoulders. Shoulders tend to become stiff if you sit at a desk all day. Kneel on the ball and raise both arms out to the side until your hands are level with your shoulders. When that gets too easy, increase the weight using dumbbells.

5. Exercise your legs. It can be tiring to get the large muscles in your legs into shape. Make squats more entertaining by doing them with the ball squeezed in between your back and a wall. Move your feet closer to the wall if you want to make the movements more intense.

6. Shape up your arms. If you’re a dedicated runner, arm exercises will make you fitter and faster. You can get a great upper body workout doing a variety of pushups with your stability ball.

Have a ball while you improve your strength, balance, and flexibility. Stability balls are a terrific workout on their own or as complement to your other sports and activities.