Fitness Friday: On the ball

February 24, 2012
Knee tucks are a more difficult ball exercise, but they help improve core muscles and balance, both of which are important for post-baby mamas. COURTESY GOOGLE IMAGES/ACE FITNESS

A balance ball or stability ball is a great tool for working out at home. I used mine all through my pregnancy for stretching and prenatal yoga. Some days, looking forward to afternoon yoga would be all that got me through the swollen ankles and random food-cravings.

Now that baby is here, there is no reason to put the ball in the closet. Get it out, dust it off, and enjoy core-strengthening exercises.

After having a baby it is really hard to find both the strength and the motivation to consider ever wearing a bathing suit again. But, alas, those times are staring us in the face summer nears.

There are several ball exercises that help build muscle.

Try:  Crunches

While sitting on top of the ball, lay slightly back into a sit-up position. Balance your upper body over the ball while performing several sit ups. Start with sets of 10 and repeat up to three times, and build up to sets of 20, or more. Crunches can also be done while on the floor with calves on top of ball. In this case lift body up to knees. Difficulty can be raised by rolling the ball out and then back toward body with calves in between each sit up.

Try:  Hip raises

While flat on the floor, place the ball under your calves, with knees bent. Raise hips off the floor, hold, and then release. Try sets of 10 to start.

Try: V-sit

While on floor, place ball in the V of your legs. With back straight, and arms straight in front of you, push the ball as far as you can, then pull it back toward you. Try doing a couple sets. Modify this by using hands on both sides of the ball to lift the ball above your head to improve arm strength - as if toting that 20-pound baby around all day doesn't improve arm strength enough!

Try:  Knee tucks

Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, place your lower shins together on the ball and straighten your arms. Lift your hips up to get your body into a push-up position and roll the ball toward your face as you tuck your knees into your chest. Hold for a second, then roll the ball back out; repeat 15 to 20 times. Try doing three to four sets.

Enjoy your weekend in the drool kingdom, and check back Monday for a new Recipe Alert!

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    Rachel Swick Mavity, author of the blog, lives with a reformed drooler (Droolface), who at age 3 loves to get muddy, drink homemade smoothies, giggle and flirt with old ladies. Her current drooler (Birdy) enjoys spitting up on work clothes and leaving drool trails as a way of showing her love.

    Mavity previously worked as a journalist for seven years at newspapers from Pennsylvania to Maryland and Delaware. In Sussex County she worked for several newspapers, including the Cape Gazette. She lives in Lewes with her husband, Ryan Mavity, their son, "Droolface," and daughter, "Birdy."