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Playing ball isn’t just for kids anymore. And it doesn’t have to entail being outside, being on a team, or even being able to throw and catch. Muscle strength. Muscle endurance. Flexibility. Cardiovascular fitness. They can all be enhanced through exercises using balls. Find one that’s fun. Find one that fits your goal. And play ball.

By now, most people have seen the big, plastic balls that seem to be one of the latest crazes. They are called lots of different things: exercise balls, stability balls, Swiss balls, physioballs. There are smaller sizes to accommodate children and small adults, and there are different textures to suit the different uses of the ball. Step-Aerobics can be performed in conjunction with the ball and so can Pilates. Many people use stability balls to strengthen and tone their abs and core muscles. Rather than slouching on their office chair or cozy couch, many women are now sitting nice and tall on a stability ball instead, which requires their muscles to tighten and helps them begin to tone. Pictures and descriptions of several different exercises that utilize this type of ball can be found at Resistaball. This is a good place to start. On the Web and in the stores, there are countless videos, books, programs, and classes that can provide you with alternative exercises as well as advanced exercises once you are ready.

Now, if you’re a soccer mom or dad, you must have at least one soccer ball under a bed, in the garage, or out on the lawn. Watch your kids the next time they have practice. There are several, simple conditioning drills that coaches use with their players. Some just involve the player and the ball, jumping back and forth over the ball, for example. Others involve partners and one ball; watch and see if they do “toe-taps” at your child’s next practice. Ask your children what drills are done. Have them show you. Cardiovascular fitness and coordination can both be improved by following the lead of your soccer star.

Good, old-fashioned medicine balls are still used by many coaches, athletes, and trainers today. Muscle power and strength can be gained when incorporating these balls into workouts. Twisting, turning, throwing, rolling-you can do it all with medicine balls. They come in different sizes and weights, as well. Personal trainers, athletic trainers, and coaches could provide some simple and safe exercises for you to start. There are numerous on-line sources that offer advice, training tips, and manuals in regards to using medicine balls for fitness.

BOSU Balance Trainers are the “it” thing. A BOSU trainer isn’t exactly a ball; it looks like a stability ball that has been cut in half and slapped onto a base. The BOSU is all about balance and working on your stabilizer muscles and in effect, all of your muscles. Similar to sitting on a stability ball, standing on a BOSU requires you to use your core muscles to balance yourself, meaning your muscles need to work. Using the BOSU, your core will get stronger. Basically, any exercise that you can perform on the ground can be performed on a BOSU and it increases the effectiveness of it. At BOSU, you are provided with pictures and descriptions of various sample exercises to help you begin.

As with any exercise program, it’s always good to consult with your physician before you start full-steam ahead. Just don’t let the equipment or the latest and greatest new exercises intimidate you. Talk with people who have experience, get up and move, and have a ball.

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