Remember dodgeball? I hated that game as a kid. My aim was worthless, and were my reflexes. I could never duck in time! My mom was literally in awe when I went out for soccer as a senior in high school, and I also did shotput – which involves using one arm to throw a heavy metal ball as far as you can – for the track and field team. However, I wasn’t very good at either of them and mostly just had fun with my friends while learning a lot of biomechanics that would later serve me as a personal trainer. I’ve recently discovered soooo many benefits of using balls – not just the big ones – in fitness, and I’m going to share as much as I can with you here. But first….
What do the experts say about balls for home fitness?
Well, I’ve seen so many posts and articles that I wish I’d saved. I’ve linked a few down below, but right off the bat here’s one by Kara Rice of Brain Connex Therapy that motivated me to create additional ball workouts for Fit2B. You can imagine my delight when Kara, a brilliant occupational therapist, agreed to be a guest on our podcast to talk about balls and all the ways that using them can benefit our physical and mental health. Here’s her post!
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Now, most people are familiar with the traditional ab exercises that can be done on a big exercise ball, like sit-ups or crunches. However, we’re talking about smaller balls and how tossing, throwing, and catching them not only adds an extra challenge to your fitness routine, but might be even better for your core than regular ab work.
Tossing, throwing, and catching balls for fitness can be an effective workout that helps to tone your core muscles. However, when starting out with ball tosses for fitness it’s important to know how to properly throw and catch them. Here is a very basic guide to help you start exercising by tossing a ball:
- Start by holding the ball in both hands directly in front of you at shoulder height.
- Then swing your arms up while breathing out and engaging your core muscles as you toss the ball straight up, not too far.
- Keep your eyes focused on the ball and keep your body balanced with your weight in both feet.
- Continue to breathe out until you catch the ball. Then take a breath in (inhale) and breathe out as you toss it again.
- After you get used to tossing with two hands, try tossing it straight up from one hand and catch it with the same hand.
- Then try tossing the ball from one hand to the other, first low, then higher.
- Use the Fit2B videos that incorporate ball tossing and catching to try different moves and improve your coordination.
If you decide to use a weighted ball like we do in our Tabata Ball workout, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to take breaks whenever you’re doing any kind of exercise involving loads or cardio training… and tossing a ball can quickly become cardio! Take a short break when you feel a bit breathless or begin to drop the ball a lot will allow your system to calm down, and then you can resume if you want. I take a lot of breaks when I’m practicing the exercises that become full length Fit2B workouts!
10 Reasons To Add Ball Tossing To Your Workouts
- Tossing, throwing, and catching balls for fitness can provide numerous physical benefits.
- You can use different types of balls such as medicine balls, exercise balls, dodgeballs, playground balls, tennis balls, or weighted balls for different levels of difficulty.
- You can create unique exercises that would be impossible to do without them!
- It’s a fun and creative way to keep fit while improving coordination, agility, and balance.
- It’s a great way to get a cardiovascular workout while simultaneously using your core and arm muscles.
- It recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers get the ball into the air. Throwing requires your muscles to rapidly contract with a relatively high degree of force.
- You will have a hard time slouching while throwing and catching a ball which means it makes you use your postural muscles which means you’re using your core!
- It improves your reflexes and coordination. Think about being able to catch a falling dish or your ability to regain your balance when you trip.
- The rapid eye movement needed to track a ball moving through the air promotes brain activity.
- It’s also a great way to work your core without crunches, which is one of our main agendas here on Fit2B where we specialize in workouts for people dealing with Diastasis Recti and hernias.
“I love all of your ball workouts. They’re challenging but it’s easy to see quick results. My eye-hand coordination and response time are all improving. Best of all, the ball workouts are always FUN!”
-Fit2B Member, Jennifer C.
Home Workout videos with balls
Here are some of the many Fit2B exercise routines that use balls to help you get in shape at home. Members, use the sorting grid an select “balls” to find all of them.Catching connections Tabata Ball Workout lime launching
Articles on Ball Workouts & Brain Health
Here are just a few articles that I found useful and interesting in my research as I have created the ball workouts for Fit2B. According to Kara, the therapist we interviewed (see above) ball-type activities have the most profound effect on the brain. The visual and motor skills used while tossing, bouncing and throwing make both sides of your brain and body respond!
- This research article outlines what type of brain activity was observed on EEGs during throwing games
- This article has good infographics on how handling a ball uses the entire brain.
- Here’s a case study where throwing a ball was used in neuroplasticity therapy
- This article has a fantastic idea called “Quiz Ball” for seniors that helps their memory and upper body!
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Leave a comment!
We love hearing from our readers and fans, so drop us a line below. Share what you know about using balls for fitness and brain health. Have you tried any of our ball workouts? If you have children, how does playing with a ball for a few minutes change their attitudes and energy? How about yourself? Go grab a ball and get back to us. We’d like to hear what you think!