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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A new way to bounce off some calories without even trying!

Published: September 23, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

The growing trend of calorie consumption awareness is obvious as our culture today has gone through the drastic measures of enforcing the transparency of nutritional facts, launching get fit campaigns and forcing a new wave of low-fat, low-sugar, low-carb type foods into the supermarkets. At the onset of this revolution, a parallel trend is brewing. That is, the market of calorie reduction products that require no physical work on part of the person. Examples include diet pills, magical drinks, consuming only green tea and acai berries, receiving your tuition bill and sweating out pounds of water weight, etc. Yeah, we’re all smart Brandeisians, we don’t buy into this stuff. BUT WAIT! Now there is actually one of these nutty programs that works, and studies prove it!

A couple of studies done by the New York, Buffalo School of Medicine and by the Research Institute Move have discovered that by just switching your desk chair for an exercise ball, without making any other changes, you can burn four times the calories you would normally burn while doing homework at a desk chair. has a feature where you can input your weight, height, age and sex to calculate the amount of calories burned while sitting at a desk and doing homework. I calculated that I would burn 50 calories per hour normally, meaning if I switched my chair for a bouncy ball, I would burn 200 calories! That’s a chocolate-chip cookie!

The study suggests that sitting on the ball also encourages people to bounce up and down or do leg-lifts, which burn even more calories than the quoted, previous amount mentioned.

In addition to burning calories, the studies also suggest that the ball forces people to straighten their posture in order to stabilize the ball, implying this change could also help your posture. The evidence, however, for this finding about postureis somewhat shaky as scientists found that sitting too long on the ball can lead to just as much slumping as sitting in a chair. Therefore, a happy medium of time spent on the ball needs to be found. Even if you spend just an hour studying, of your total time spent working at a desk, on the ball, it looks like a real difference can be made in calories burned.

What is even more exciting is that this change is cheap and easy to do! For as as $10 on you can order an exercise ball of any color or size you want. Nope, I’m not paid by exercise ball companies and, unfortunately, Billy Mays is not my father, so, no, I’m not just trying to sell you something. I actually think this idea is really nifty and accessible as it presents a real life example of the ever-famous “burning calories without ever stepping into a gym,” deal. So, if you want to feel a little better about sitting on your butt all day studying, try this out and let me know how it goes.

Tune in next week for more health tips and, as always, please send me an email at with any health-related questions you may have.