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.