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Exercise Balls and Balance Discs Improve Classroom Learning and Benefit Kids with ADHD

Balance Disc

Sitting on a balance disc can improve concentration and memory.

Kids who have trouble concentrating in school, such as those with attention deficit disorder, may benefit from replacing standard classroom chairs with exercise balls or balance discs. A study conducted by Mayo Clinic that focused on finding ways to introduce more movement into the classroom and fight childhood obesity found that chairless classrooms offer even more benefits than expected.

As Bob Nellis of Mayo Clinic commented in an article by the Star Tribune, “Everyone anticipated that kids were not going to be as attentive because the kids were not sitting at their desks lined up in little rows looking at the front. If anything, they were far more attentive.” Sitting on a balance disc or exercise ball allows students to burn off extra energy and leads to improved concentration.

Exercise balls provide alternative seating for classrooms.

Exercise balls provide alternative seating for classrooms and kids with ADHD.

Using an exercise ball or balance disc (an air-filled cushion) allows movement without disturbing other students in the classroom. Because of the unstable seating that these balls and discs provide, the students must move in order to keep their balance. Keeping your balance on a ball or disc makes slouching next to impossible, which is a surefire way to improve posture. These unconventional seating methods help to strengthen the abdominal muscles and burn energy—an important factor considering the trend towards shorter recess time and longer classroom instruction.

Several elementary schools around the country have adopted exercise balls and balance discs into the classroom as a way to improve students’ focus and learning. The idea is catching on for older students as well, such as middle school math classes, and spreading into the home, where some parents of kids with ADHD are using the balance balls and discs during family dinners and homework sessions. Most report that their children are able to sit longer and focus better while using the ball or disc.

Benefits of Replacing Traditional Seating with a Balance Ball or Disc:
  • Provides a natural outlet for fidgeting and burning off extra energy
  • Improves concentration and focus
  • Strengthens the abdominal muscles
  • Promotes physical activity
  • Makes sitting tasks more fun and enjoyable
  • Creates less noise and distraction than fidgeting in a chair or constantly getting up to walk around the room