With its origins in ancient Persia, the medicine ball has been used for thousands of years as a fitness and health aid.
From humble beginnings - Hippocrates used to stuff animal skins with stones and sand – they were used by Greek patients who needed to strengthen their bodies, by throwing them back and forth to each other.
Now the medicine ball is more circular, more widespread, and has more uses.
Here are three key exercises to help you keep fit with a medicine ball:
1. Squat thrust
This exercise works your abs, bum, shoulders, heart and lungs.
- Standing with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, take your medicine ball and hold it with both hands at chest height.
- Pushing your bum out, lower into a squat and then fold forward from your waist and put the ball in front of your toes, keeping hold of it.
- Now jump your feet back to the plank position and keep your abs drawn in.
- Jump forward immediately and straight back to a standing position.
2. Knee drive
This exercise will tone your abs, back and shoulders.
- Beginning in the plank pose with a straight spine, hold your medicine ball with your hands pressed on to it.
- Bend your right knee and quickly drive it towards your chest.
- Jump your right leg back as you take the left knee towards the chest, as if in a running motion.
- Alternate your legs so that only one foot is on the floor at any one time.
3. The crunch
This exercise is perfect for developing definition in the abs.
- Lying on your back with arms straight, hold the medicine ball in front of your chest with both hands.
- Fold one knee in towards your chest, then follow with the other.
- Straighten your legs up towards the ceiling and then cross your ankles over.
- Straighten your arms to raise the ball above your shoulders.
- Now lift the ball towards your ankles as you exhale and raise head and shoulders away from the floor.
- Inhale to get back to your original position.