Keep your butt on the ball: Classrooms are ditching chairs for balls

Ball together now: More schools are getting rid of desk chairs and using exercise balls for students to sit on to help improve their health and help them learn better. (Photo courtesy of WittFitt)
It’s a classic scene from NBC’s “The Office” that’s being played out more and more in classrooms across the country.

You may have seen that “The Office” episode that starts out with nerdy Dwight Shrute bobbing up and down at his desk, sitting on a huge inflatable ball, extolling all the health wonders to be had from it, including increased dexterity, and he then proceeds bump his coffee cup on the desk next to him. His workmate, Jim, proceeds to drive a scissors into the ball.

What’s funny on TV is becoming reality in more classrooms around the country today. Desk chairs are being taken out of classrooms and being replaced with exercise balls. The balls are most common in elementary classrooms, where high-energy students can wiggle while they work.

The initial idea was to provide a new alternative to the decreasing amount of school time devoted to physical education. Having kids bouncing on a ball all day is good at developing leg and torso muscles along with draining excess energy that can make kids fidgety in classrooms.

A company based in Hudson, Wisc. – WittFitt – is one of the top suppliers of classroom sitting balls. According to it’s website, it lists these positive benefits to using the balls instead of chairs:

• Assists in improving posture
• Allows for "active" sitting
• Enhances attention and concentration
• Promotes learning through movement
• Improves blood flow
• Improves balance and coordination
• Strengthens core (postural) muscles
• Adjusts for a customized fit

In many of the classroom, students have an option between using a ball or a chair. Invariably, balls are more popular than chairs. One second-grade student is quoted in a recent newspaper story as saying wiggling around helps her think better.

So what do you think? Is this a wave of the future for education and health or a flash in the pan? Do you have experience as a teacher or student using exercise balls in the classroom? Share your opinions here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I find this very inovative and practical. Except For kids falling and breaking their heads.

posted on Fri, 11/09/2007 - 8:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Kids won't fall and break their heads if they are sittting on the ball correctly.

posted on Sun, 11/11/2007 - 2:32pm
Ben's picture
Ben says:

Kids are small and rubbery, I wouldn't worry about them hurting themselfs too much. If it helps them pay more attention in class, and can help keep them from getting too fat, its good in my book.

posted on Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:21am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Looks not very safe but I'll try it! I sit on one of those thigs everyday at work.

posted on Fri, 11/16/2007 - 12:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have a friend who has a ball and she says there fun and keep her concentrated.

posted on Fri, 11/23/2007 - 12:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Love it. I'm forwarding this to our school.

posted on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 10:48am
Ann Calhoun's picture
Ann Calhoun says:

I'm not a student, but have been sitting on an exercize ball while working at the computer for over a year now. It works as advertized, not only helping me focus, but as a interesting and helpful "distraction" while I'm musing over my writing -- sort of like tapping a pen on a table while you're thinking over a difficult problem -- only this time I'm noodling around on the ball. It's very comfortable and fun and I suspect the constant unconscious micromovements needed to keep you upright are also vital in telling body and brain to stay alert. I'd love to see these things in more schools. I'm betting it would help ADD/ADH kids, as well as all kids who are too full of energy since so many schools have cut out or cut back on PE classes!

posted on Fri, 11/20/2009 - 9:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I teach special education and have several students with ADD. It has helped in so many ways. THe balls correct posture which aids in good handwriting. The children love them and are more focused when they are allowed to sit on them.

posted on Tue, 01/26/2010 - 2:43pm

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