The swiss ball, the latest trend in physiotherapy and posture seating, was invented in Switzerland
in the 1950s, originally as a tool to help patients recover mobility after serious injuries.
The balls are large inflated spheres, ranging in diameter from approximately 55cm to 95cm. Generally manufactured from a very tough synthetic rubber material, they are like enormous and very strong beach balls.
The genius of the swiss ball is that the body's own weight is the "exercise machine". Balance is critical when using the swiss ball, and indeed, for many casual users, enhanced balance is one of the easiest things to achieve.
A full range of stretching, aerobic, and body building exercises can be integrated with the swiss ball, however many folks are simply using them as chairs.
When a swiss ball replaces a chair (invariably at a desk with a computer), the knees are positioned well below the pelvis, which allows the body to assume a very comfortable shallow squatting position. This ensures that the sitter's spine is very straight. It is almost impossible to slouch when sitting on a swiss ball.
Additionally, when using a swiss ball as a chair, one tends to constantly bounce a little, and to re-correct one's balance every second. This provides for a low-level aerobic workout while simply sitting at one's desk.
Speaking personally, the swiss ball is also an excellent stress reduction tool, as I can't imagine being pissed off for too long when one is merrily bouncing all day...
In Australia, the swiss ball has become global computer giant IBM's standard geek chair.