Exercise balls have been around for quite some time and they’ve truly left a mark on both the fitness community and for people that work from home or stand on a chair for most of the day. But are they truly as good as claimed and can they help you fix your back issues or get in shape without going to the local gym? Well, in this guide, I will go over all of that and we will also discuss some of the best exercise balls for this year along with their features, pros, and cons.
Best Overall – URBNFit Exercise Ball for Fitness
The URBNFit Exercise Ball is one of this year’s best sellers for a few very good reasons. First of all, it is well within the affordable range of most people. It is also surprisingly durable and very easy to use thanks to its anti-slip properties and multiple sizes to pick from.
Materials-wise, the ball is made out of a high-quality PVC material which features a fairly elastic but durable wall which is anti-burst rated for up to a load of 2000 lbs, which is one of the highest numbers on this list. The rings around the ball prevent you from slipping even when the ball is wet. In terms of setting it up, the process is fairly easy and the inflation time is low due to the free hand pump that you get with the ball itself. While hand pumps aren’t as convenient as foot pumps, they do shorten the inflation time by a significant margin.
You can get this exercise ball in 10 different colors and 5 sizes ranging from 45 to 85cm. This makes the ball ideal for people all the way from 5 ft to people taller than 6 ft. Another thing you’re getting here is the Free digital workout guide app that comes with all URBNFit products. In it, you will be able to see various exercise ball drills and the steps to do them properly. The last thing that really shines about this ball is its price. As I said, there is a reason why this particular model sells well is due to the fact that it really checks a lot of boxes, and for a lot of people affordability is high on that list.
- Very well-priced
- Durable construction
- Good anti-slip properties
- Comes in 10 different colors
- Includes a hand pump
- Comes with a Free workout guide
- Can be used for workouts and for chair replacement
- The PVC material can cause issues for people with allergies
- Long-term durability is questionable
Best Budget – Pro Body Pilates Exercise Ball
The Pro Body Pilates Exercise Ball brings an excellent value for your money with its relatively good quality, color variations, and accessories that come with it. Apart from the affordability, the other standout feature about this ball is the workout guide you get with it. You get that in both digital and poster forms so that you can refresh the drills anywhere you go.
The ball is made out of a non-rubber PVC material made specifically for people with allergies in mind. The materials are also odor-free and lack some of the most harmful chemicals found on other exercise balls such as DEHP, BBP, and others. While the wall is fairly thick, the ball doesn’t have the highest anti-burst rating I’ve seen in this price range. It is officially rated to withstand around 600 lbs which makes it more better-suited for stationary activities and slow drills rather than active fitness exercises that can put a ton of pressure onto the ball fast. The surface of the ball is also lined with anti-slip lines and the PVC itself isn’t very slippery even when wet.
In terms of sizes, there are 4 sizes that range from 45 to 85 inches. Additionally, there are 10 color options to choose from. What you need to be careful with, though, is that every color has a specific combination between the hand pump, exercise guide, and other attachments. While some options appear to be much cheaper, they often lack the accessories that come with other colors such as my favorite one – Aqua. As a whole, this exercise ball is a well-rounded model that has an exceptional value for its money and is good for anyone looking to get a good ball to try different workouts and exercises in home.
- Comes in 10 color options
- 4 sizes available
- Comes with a hand pump
- You get exercise ball workout guides
- Odor-free materials
- Not very durable when used in heavy workouts
- The bigger ones take a while to fully inflate
- Not ideal for an office chair replacement
Most Durable – DynaPro Exercise Ball
The Dynapro Exercise ball has been on top of a lot of lists for at least half a decade now and the reason for that is the fact that it is excellently priced and one of the most durable models out there. It checks almost all boxes and is ideal for yoga, heavy workouts, cross-fitness, and sitting in front of your desk.
Apart from the ball being easy to transport thanks to its lightweight nature and easy to use foot pump, it is actually one of the most durable models on the market currently. The 100% recycled materials here still feature a 2275 micrometer thick later of anti-burst rubber that can take heavy loads both in workouts and while sitting on it. The ball is safety-rated for up to 2200lbs of pressure which makes it ideal for workouts and heavy stress. The good thing here is that higher loads will actually cause the ball to lose air through its vent rather than burst, which is a good safety feature to have. The surface of the ball isn’t as matted as some other balls like the Trideer one but it still features good anti-slip properties.
When it comes to picking the right size for you, Dynapro has delivered you a good graph that takes your height into account and splits the graph into two sections – one meant for people that are going to use the ball for exercise, and one that is going to cater to people that will use the ball as a chair replacement. Normally, the balls that will be used as chairs will have to be less inflated (to prevent constantly rolling to one side), so you will have to choose a bigger size despite your height. There are 4 size options for the Dynapro exercise ball which range from 45cm to 75 cm (or 17.7 inches to 29.5 inches). Additionally, you get 5 color options. The 45 cm ball is also good for grown-up kids that are around 4’5″ tall.
- Can take up to 2200 lbs of load
- Extremely durable
- Excellent for all types of activities
- Comes with a foot pump
- Non-slip surface
- A bit more expensive than other models
- Lacks a large 85cm size
- Foot pump is more convenient but slower than hand pumps
Best for Office Work – Trideer Ball Chair
With exercise balls, separating the premium models from the budget options has always been tricky since the price differences aren’t that big, to begin with. Still, there are certain exercise balls that really stand out thanks to their quality and long-term durability. The Trideer Ball Chair is one of your best options if you’re looking for an office chair replacement.
This ball comes in two different configurations – one with an inflatable support ring and one without it. Of course, the standalone exercise ball is cheaper but the support ring serves a very important function – it doesn’t allow the ball to move from side to side when you sit on it in the office or on your home desk. That ring, along with the ball, is inflatable through the foot pump you get. This is actually the only exercise ball on this list that has that type of accessory with it.
The ball itself features an extremely thick wall, making it very durable and anti-burst rated for up to 2000lbs. Materials-wise, the ball is made out of an eco-friendly, hypoallergenic PVC material. The outside of the ball is extremely well-matted and is slip-resistant even when you’re wet. There are 2 size options (65 and 75 cm) which doesn’t look great at first but most people don’t really need more than these two sizes when it comes to using the ball as a chair since you can inflate or deflate the ball to your right height. In terms of styling, you can get the Trideer Ball Chair in two color options – black and grey. Everything about the ball and its accessories is covered in a full 1-year long warranty. On top of that, there is a 30-day return period.
- Very durable
- 1-year warranty
- Comes with an inflatable ring
- Has an easy-to-use foot pump
- Perfect for desk work
- Slip resistant
- Anti-burst up to 2000lbs
- Only two size options
- A bit expensive
- Not great for kids
Most Portable – Live Infinitely Exercise Ball
The Live Infinitely Exercise Ball is a professional-grade ball that brings all the benefits of a heavy-duty product into the affordable price range so that most people can enjoy a high-grade product.
The ball is made out of a durable PVC material with a .70mm thick wall which can support pressures up to 2200lbs. There are no harmful substances here such as Latex, BPA, heavy metals, and other phthalates that cause skin allergies and rashes in other cheaper products. The company ensures that the ball can take a cut up to an inch long without the ball bursting. There are well-pronounced non-slip ridges that make the ball easy to handle even in workout conditions where you and the ball are covered in sweat.
Size-wise, there is a great variety of options ranging from 55 to 95cm. While this ball has the rare 37.5-inch option, there isn’t a smaller 45cm version, making the ball unsuitable for most kids. Within the package, you also get a hand pump, 2 plugs, a plug remover, and a PDF with all the exercise ball drills you can perform with it. One thing I like about this exercise ball is that, despite it being cheap, everything is covered by a 1-year full unlimited warranty and the company’s customer support team is also very easy to work with which is rarer and rarer these days.
- Very durable
- A lot of size options
- Anti-burst rated for up to 2000lbs
- Non-slip surface
- 1 Year full warranty
- There can be some bad odors at first
- Needs to be inflated every now and then
- Some units are defective and oblong when first inflated
Best Mini Exercise Ball – Trideer Pilates Ball
While mini exercise balls obviously lack the benefits from a larger one, they tend to have their strong sides and are good for a multitude of exercises such as Pilates, Yoga, Physical therapy, and other home & gym drills. The Trideer Mini Exercise ball is one of the best options for such a ball out there due to its affordability and long-term durability.
The wall of this exercise ball is made out of low-odor and flexible PVC materials that are anti-burst rated. The texture is also matted which adds to the anti-slip properties of the ball.
This ball is also extremely easy to carry around thanks to its small footprint when folded and deflated. Once you want to use it again you can use the ball’s inflation hole to blow air into it. All it takes is less than a minute to fully inflate it without even using a pump. That really adds to the practicality of the ball.
- Very practical and easy to carry around
- Excellent for yoga, pilates, and other exercises
- Very durable
- Made out of quality materials
- Comes in 5 color opitons
- Can’t be used for some exercise ball exercises
- Comes in only one size
- No pump or other accessories with it
Best for Yoga – Valeo Exercise Body Ball
A yoga exercise ball has to be flexible, durable, and its walls need to be slip-resistant. The Valeo Exercise Body ball is all that and it comes at a bargain price.
It has a durable wall with contoured rings to prevent slipping even when doing hot yoga and you’re sweating a lot. The wall is designed to not burst even if punctured.
In terms of size and color options, this yoga ball comes in 3 sizes – 55, 65, and 75 cm. This isn’t great since it fails to address shorter people and kids, as well as tall adults. Still, it tries to cater to its target audience for yoga exercises. It also comes in 6 different colors and all of them get a dual-action hand-pump and a few other accessories. the whole inflation process of the ball takes less than 2-3 minutes but isn’t as easy as it would’ve been with a foot pump.
- Fairly inexpensive
- Comes in 6 colors
- Has 3 sizes
- Good for yoga and pilates
- Comes with a few accessories
- Inflates fast
- Long-term durability is questionable
- No official rating for weight resistance
- Doesn’t come in small and large sizes, only mid-sizes ones
Best for Kids – Gaiam Kids Stay-N-Play Balance Ball
Kids love exercise balls as they bounce around and are fun to sit on or roll with. The Gaiam Kids Stay-N-Play children’s balance ball is a flexible ball that is good both for exercises and is specifically designed to sit upright like a chair. To help with that, the ball has 5 inflatable legs that extend slightly outwards and provide a lot of support.
The walls of the ball are made out of premium PVC material that has no harmful chemicals mixed into it and is odor-free. The sitting ball is quite flexible and doesn’t deform over time, nor is it prone to puncturing or bursting.
The Stay-N-Play Balance Ball also comes in 9 unique and colorful combinations but there are no size options with the only one available being 45cm. This is good for most grown-up kids but will be quite big for some smaller kids. When it comes to inflating the ball for the first time, you have to fully inflate it and let it sit for at least a day to give time for the materials to stretch. Once that time has passed, you need to re-inflate the ball to its full 45cm size.
- Excellent for kids from 5-12 years of age
- Keeps kids engaged when they’re sitting
- Has stabilizing legs
- Inflation is tricky
- Can’t roll freely
- Not ideal for exercises
Exercise Balls Buyer’s Guide
With exercise balls becoming more popular, a lot of people have started using them for a variety of purposes. Fitness instructors and physical recovery centers have also implemented them vastly in their array of conditioning exercises. Before we dive into the features, let’s discuss the different kinds of exercise balls you can find out there…
Types of Exercise Balls
There are numerous types of exercise balls out there and they are mostly different in their size. Some of the most important ones are Small (or mini) exercise balls, Medicine balls, weighted toning balls, therapy balls, and foot massage balls. All these serve a vastly different purpose and are meant both for training and physical therapy for older people or people that have suffered an injury. In this guide we will primarily focus on the large exercise balls there are good for physical activities and as a supplement to your regular office chair. Let’s start with their features now!
From all the features that you should look for in an exercise ball, the most important are:
- Sitting Support
- Anti-slip properties
- Materials and durability
- Inflation and portability
- Additional Considerations
The size of exercise balls is measured in cm and typically ranges from 35 to 85cm. Most balls have different size charts that take your height into consideration. If you are getting a ball mostly for exercise, then the size isn’t that important. For pregnancy exercises, it is recommended to get one size above your typical chart size.
Additionally, there are mini balls that have a slightly different purpose. They are meant primarily for various exercises with them and are also great for kids. They aren’t great for sitting on them or for most yoga practices. One major advantage they have over normal-sized balls is that they are extremely practical and easy to move around. Furthermore, they are very fast to inflate.
If you plan on using your exercise or balance ball in the office or at home in front of your computer, then you should consider how stable the ball is when you sit on it. Apart from the structural rigidity of some balls that are built with sitting in mind, you should also be careful to not over inflate them as that will make the ball hard to work with. Furthermore, some balls come with special concave platforms that prevent them from moving too much when you sit on them. Those can cost you a little extra, though.
The anti-slipping properties of an exercise ball come mainly from its texture. On most balls, you will notice certain horizontal contoured lines that go across the whole diameter of the ball. Still, there are models that take things too far and become too sticky. This is why you should try to find the optimum balance between how slick and sticky the ball is.
Materials and durability
There are two important features of the ball’s wall that you should look at. Those are the actual compound used and its thickness. Most balls use a non-PVC material and it is becoming increasingly popular to not have any mixtures of harmful chemicals such as DBP, DEHP, and others. These are all important things to have in mind as you can be allergic to any of those substances including rubber and PVC materials.
No matter what other features an exercise ball has, it will always be as good as it will last. Weaker balls have the risk of bursting when overly inflated or used too harshly. Since you won’t be able to determine how durable a ball is by simply looking at it online or seeing what materials it is made of, the best way to indirectly determine that is by checking out the weight numbers. If the ball can handle more than 400-500lbs then it is definitely safe to use by most people in normal office conditions and yoga. For training purposes look for balls that are anti-burst rated for up to 600-800lbs or more.
Inflation and portability
In terms of inflating the ball, there will be a couple of different options, depending on the model. Each and every model comes with either a food pump, a hand pump, or an adapter for a different type of pump – compressor or bike pump. Obviously, the ones with foot pumps are the most convenient and easy to set up no matter where you are but they take a bit longer than hand pumps which are a bit harder to use but take less time. Make sure to check your exercise ball’s instructions as some balls need to be inflated before being used and others can hold their air quite well over time. Inflating a 55-65cm ball generally takes around 15 minutes with a foot pump and around 5-10 minutes with a hand one.
How easy it is to inflate the ball greatly affects the portability of the ball too since you will have to deflate and inflate it every time you take it to your local gym or yoga studio. Still, this is less of an issue nowadays, as exercise balls are fairly inexpensive and most places have different sizes ready to be used without you needing to bring your own from home.
As I just mentioned, exercise balls are relatively cheap compared to other fitness equipment. Most good models will set you back around 20 dollars while some really premium ones that come with lots of additional accessories and extras cost anywhere between 30 and 60 dollars. Still, you don’t have to go for those, as the cheaper ones typically present a good amount of material quality and long-term durability.
There are a few things that you should consider on top of all the basic features. One of the most important ones is the anti-burst technology used in most expensive balls. As the name suggests, that prevents the ball to burst under heavy load. This isn’t as important for balls that are meant for office chair replacements than it is for balls used for yoga of heavy training where the exercise ball will be put under heavy pressure consistently. Even if a ball isn’t anti-burst certified, a thicker wall will indicate to you that it will fare well under stress.
Other things you can consider are the color of the ball. Most companies nowadays like to experiment a lot with colors that bring a certain touch of uniqueness to their product. The shape of the ball is also important. There are more and more interesting designs out there that are geared towards specific usage. As I mentioned earlier, the anti-slip lines are another important feature that you should keep in mind.
Benefits of Using Exercise Balls
There are numerous benefits of working out with exercise balls or using them in your office. Some of the most important ones are:
- They help with the increase in your lower back mobility
- Exercise balls improve your stability and balance
- Helps you learn how to maintain a proper posture
- They help with core muscle development
- Can be used in a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups
- Prevent that fatigue in your legs and waist at the end of a long day in the office
Now, let’s answer some common questions regarding exercise balls…
Frequently Asked Questions
How to choose the right size for my exercise ball?
There are universal principles for inflatable exercise balls and their size compared to yours. In general, if you’re below 5ft tall you need to get a ball that is below 50cm (or around 20 inches). People over 5 ft can use a ball from 20 to 30 inches big. When you sit on the ball, your legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
For how long can you sit on your exercise ball at work?
Most people think that exercise balls can fully replace ergonomic office chairs. That is wrong. They are at best a supplemental way to keep your core engaged and your posture upright. If you want to use an exercise ball to do your office work, you should do so in intervals of around 20-30 minutes alternating with your normal chair. Keep your belly pulled in to keep your balance and keep your feet planted on the ground to avoid unnecessary movements.
Do you lose extra calories while sitting on an exercise ball?
While it is a common misconception that exercise balls help you shed a few extra calories, there can be some truth to this claim. This is mainly because most people don’t just stay still on the ball while sitting on it. Furthermore, exercise balls engage your core muscles more when you sit on them, allowing your body to use a little bit more energy to keep its upright position.
How can you lose belly fat with an exercise ball?
There are different ways to lose belly fat by using an exercise ball. One of the most common exercises that engage your core and stomach muscles are called “roll-outs” and is done by standing on your knees and keeping your hands on the ball in front of you while slowly rolling it away from your body while keeping the same knee position.
Finding the best exercise balls for workouts or office work is going to be a little tricky at first as most models seem similar to each other. The key features you need to look for are the size of the ball along with the materials used in it. A good ball should be durable while also maintaining elasticity and should also be the right size for you to be able to sit on it without bending your legs too much.