We live in a world now that requires us to spend a great deal of time sitting. There isn’t an easy way to exercise when most of your time is spent in front of a computer on your butt.
Unless you are fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your view) enough to have a job where you spend the day on your feet, you are likely looking for a way to strengthen your core while also burning some calories.
Exercise balls were made with this in mind and are a perfect way to get your exercise in, even when you are busy with other work.
The strength that you will get in your core, plus the constant balancing you will need to do, will help you get into shape without making a significant impact on your personal time.
Exercise & Yoga Ball Overview
When you start to shop around for a ball, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Where will the ball be used most? How often will you use the ball?
How portable does the ball need to be? How does it look (especially important if you plan to use it in an office or other public space)? How safe is the ball? Will it burst while you are using it?
Exercise balls are called many things, so as we get into the review it is key you know what those names are.
Exercise balls are the most common name, but you will also find names that include therapy balls, Pilates balls, yoga balls, physio balls, gym balls, Swiss balls, fitness balls, and others.
Each ball has a durability rating. This is essentially how much weight it can handle before it is likely to burst. You will need a ball that can withstand your body weight plus any additional equipment you plan to add, such as small weights.
For the balls that don’t state a specific rating, expect 100-200 kg, which is 220 to 440 lbs. Some balls also include anti-burst tech which will ensure that a puncture does not send you falling flat onto the ground.
Exercise balls come in a number of different sizes. Ranging from 18 inches to 33 inches in ball height, you will need to find the one that is right for you. The average users will likely find that the 22 to 30 inch balls are perfect.
For a quick reference use the following chart as a starting guide:
4’10” and under, use an 18 inch ball, or Small.
4’8” to 5’5”, use a 22 inch ball, or Medium.
5’6” to 6’0”, use a 26 inch ball, or Large.
6’0” to 6’5”, use a 30 inch ball, or Extra Large.
Over 6’5”, use a 33 Inch ball, or Extra Extra Large.
This is a rough guideline and you may find that you need something a little larger or smaller.
If you are behind a computer all day, you may be looking for a chair replacement for an hour or two of your day, and you will need to measure your regular sitting position to find the right size for that. Just make sure it will also support your weight.
A Few Precautions
Before going any further, this is a key subject that needs to be mentioned. No matter what ball you end up purchasing, you need to remember that this is an inflated balloon, more or less.
If you have any injuries from the past, such as spinal injuries or issues, you should speak to your primary care physician before using a ball. In addition, make sure you inflate the ball exactly as the manufacturer instructs.
Over or under-inflated balls can lead to premature bursts which can only lead to harm.
Exercise Balls as Chairs
At one point exercise balls were talked about as a possible replacement for a chair at work. It didn’t pan out early on, simply because of the difficulty or business regulations. Ultimately, things have taken a turn for the better.
There are some serious businesses out there that are creating office exercise ball chairs. Essentially, they work the same as a chair, with rolling wheels on the frame and a low profile black ball that sits in the middle.
It is worth researching, but for a writer like me, I’ll stick with a traditional ball. If you are in an office, consider one of the chairs.
For our review, we will be looking at a number of different exercise balls, but keep in mind that what they are specifically used for is somewhat up in the air. While most are good for exercise or yoga, they are just as good as an office chair replacement.
We will try to mention that in the review, but keep the sizing charts in mind.
Where available, we will also include the weight that the ball supports, but if it is not listed by the manufacturer refer to the average, which is often much lower than some of the best out there.
Still, they may show up as a solid choice for a budget, but we want to stress the importance of getting a ball that will support the weight that you plan to put on it. That includes your own body weight, plus any weights you plan to use while on the ball.
Also, keep in mind that a ball that is rated at 2,200 pounds is rated at a stationary weight. For more active use, it may drop as low as a 600-pound guarantee.
Think of it this way, if you are bouncing on the ball intensely you are going to put more pressure on it which can possibly cause wear or bursting. So, make sure you keep those things in mind as you read our review.
Best Exercise Ball Reviews
My ball of choice and the one I use at my desk is the Live Infinitely ball. I use a 75 cm ball which works perfectly as a desk chair and requires me to sit up straight.
It would upset my parents and teachers back in my youth, that something so simple could get me to “sit up straight” which they constantly hounded me about.
This forces me to work on my posture and core strength throughout the day and makes the fact that I am sitting for a majority of it much less infuriating.
The ball comes with a workout guide, which I honestly haven’t used much but seems to be very thorough, as well as a hand pump. My biggest complaint is the pump itself.
The instructions aren’t complicated, but they aren’t the most well written either. The pump will give you a workout as you try to get the ball up to the initial 80% mark for the first 24 hours.
The problem is that it doesn’t include any way to measure how full the ball is, as some other brands will include, requiring some significant guess work.
Still, the ball is easily the most secure ball I’ve used yet and I don’t feel like it is going to burst or break any time soon. The quality is strong and my daughter has even started to try to sit on it – and at six, she has been more successful than I expected.
Some reports have been found that the wrong size ball shows up, so make sure you get the size you want from a place that allows returns or exchanges in case there is a problem. Otherwise, this is easily the best ball on the market for a desk chair and exercise.
It also has a 600-pound anti-burst guarantee.
- Easily the best ball on the market for all-around use.
- Can support 2,200 pounds.
- Ribs along the ball create an anti-slip texture.
- Feels sturdy and safe.
- The hand pump is a significant workout.
- Does not include any measuring device to ensure it is inflated fully (instead it says to measure from the wall to the box on the floor and just expect that is correct).
- A few packages seem to include the wrong size.
The DYNAPRO, for better or worse, is a near carbon copy of the Live Infinitely. This only comes in at number two because it is able to withstand a slightly lower level of pressure.
It also varies more widely in price than the Live Infinitely. Put side by side, it would be all but impossible to tell the difference between the two, all the way down to the pump that is used.
The big knocks here are price and the lack of an online exercise guide. It does include a card that shows a few exercises as basic drawings (think better stick figures) which is a bonus, but not as complete as the number one on our list.
There are also a number of complaints that this ball does not have a very long lifespan. This isn’t going to be the case for every user, but keep it in mind.
Finally, as this is a pretty close copy of the number one ball on the spot, it is hard to recommend over the Live Infinitely unless you find a significantly lower price.
This is a fine option if you don’t like our number one, or have issues with it, but it comes in at the second spot for a reason.
- Great ball in most cases.
- Very similar to our number one pick and may be found at a lower cost.
- Includes a simple exercise guide.
- Quality control issues are more rampant than expected.
- May not have the durability expected.
- May have a chemical smell.
- Inconsistent results from other users.
Black Mountain comes in at number three as it is a solid ball that offers a few differences from the other two on our list. The same issues can be found if you look hard enough, but for the most part, this is a sturdy and durable ball that will last a good amount of time.
It has less textured look to it and is a bit slicker than our number one pick, which will be a personal preference choice. I personally like the stickier rubber used for the Live Infinitely, but from my research online, everyone prefers a different texture.
The ball is not all that different from our first two picks, but the pump needs some work. It seems like a no-brainer to get this one because it uses a foot pump which should be easier to inflate the ball with, but that isn’t the case here.
The pump is actually inferior to the hand pumps and may require you to purchase or use something different. The nozzle constantly comes out and can require a partner to make sure it stays in place.
There are reports of the ball bursting after only a few hours, but that is a rarity that can be found in just about any ball you purchase.
Overall, this is a ball that is similar to our first two but has enough differences in texture and material to set it apart.
Again, the preference will come down to the type of feel you want when using the ball, so make sure you purchase from a place that offers exchanges.
- Great ball, very similar to the first two.
- Slicker than our number one pick, which may be what you are looking for.
- Enough ribs to give it a gripping texture, but not so much that you stick to the ball.
- The foot pump is very finicky and may require a run to the local athletic store to get a better one.
- Quality control is not perfect.
- May burst quickly if not filled correctly (always follow the instructions).
The Superior Fitness ball is the first significantly different ball on our list. It is a 65 cm ball that is made specifically for exercise and yoga. Don’t buy this if you are looking for a solid desk chair replacement unless the 65 cm is the right size.
The big advantages here are the stability ring and resistance bands. The bands are good for resistance up to 220 pounds. The ring keeps the ball in place and the resistance bands will add more options for your exercise routines.
This is an especially good item for heavier individuals looking to start to work off that fat and get into a healthier body. Included is a 38-exercise poster guide that gives you an outline of what you should do with the ball.
It’s certainly not the best guide out there, but it is better than nothing at all. It’s made from non-allergenic PVC that’s eco-friendly. This set includes a workout poster, a stable base with workout straps, a pump and accessories to help with ball inflation.
The ball seems to sink a bit the heavier you are, but if you continue to refill it if it loses its strength you should get into a good spot where the ball supports you easily.
The only reason this isn’t number one is because of the lack of options for those looking for a chair replacement and the less than optimal exercise guide.
- Specialized for healthy workouts.
- Stability ring helps those that are far out of shape stay sturdy.
- Resistance bands add value and additional exercise options.
- Comes in 4 different color combinations.
- The workout guide left us wanting something more complete.
- Lacks flexibility as only a 65 cm ball is currently offered.
- The hand pump is better than a foot pump, but not by much.
Similar to the Superior Fitness ball, this ball is made specifically to act as a chair. It includes a 52 cm removable ball, which is small for a desk chair replacement.
The trick here, though, is that the ball includes a sliding base with lumbar support back that creates a chair when the ball is inserted.
You likely won’t use this for exercise on its own, but as a chair, it gives you more support than a ball alone. You also have to pay a significantly higher price since it comes with the additional hardware.
With that said, this is the perfect choice for someone that simply wants a unique and healthier chair to sit on.
A few complaints that keep this from rising higher up on the list. At only 300 pounds, this isn’t going to be ideal for many people that likely need it most, or safe for that matter.
The rolling wheels on the chair are a bit of a mystery as they provide less stability and make it difficult to stand up without tipping over. The fact that the ball can’t be used for exercise by most users is a disappointment as well.
- Ideal for those wanting a new office chair.
- Comfortable enough to sit on for a few hours, but will push you to get up and walk around more often than a traditional chair.
- The included chair, itself is great for lumbar support.
- Available in NINE different colors!
- Not the ideal size for exercise for most individuals.
- Wheels on the chair cause stability issues.
- Only 300 pounds supported which excludes many users that likely need this most.
We just had to include the Vivora Luno even though it is technically not an exercise ball. Well, it is … but it isn’t! Clear enough?
What I mean is that it is an inflated ball of the same size and quality as an exercise ball, and it can be used as one, but it has a different focus. It’s covered with a textile material and engineered specifically to be a chair for any task you’d perform while seated!
This ball is truly one of a kind! Unlike most exercise balls, the Vivora won’t give you that “bouncy” feeling while you sit on it. It’s basically dressed in a good-looking and very functional “tailored suit”.
The cover is made of natural beechwood vegan leatherette for a very upscale look. The suit or jacket causes the ball to stay round and not flattish and squishy.
The Standard Luno works well with desks ranging from 27 inches to 30 inches, while the larger Max size is good for desks up to 36 inches tall.
The Vivora can be used outdoors, and it can also be a perfect birthing ball. Details of exact body measurements and how they relate to the different Vivora sizes can be found on Amazon, so click the big green button below for those details!
- Includes stylish covers that make the ball a part of your furniture and decreases “bounciness”
- Great looks
- Superior function as a chair over any other exercise ball on the market
- The wool-like cover can be itchy and uncomfortable on skin and some say it wears too quickly
- Looks a lot like the Death Star! 🙂 (okay, this can be a good thing too!)
Conclusion & Recommendation
You may have noticed that there isn’t a significant difference between exercise balls on the market. Most fall within a few different areas and the best, such as the Live Infinitely at number one and the DYNAPRO at number two offer a wide range of uses.
Most balls will perform well enough for the majority exercise ball exercises performed.
If you are looking for a single purpose ball, to be used as an office chair, the Gaiam at number five is a perfect choice at a fair price. Finally, number three and six both offer bases which allow additional security as you exercise.
They aren’t our favorite ball on the list, but that will ease you into the routine at a more comfortable pace than the rest.
When you start to narrow down your search, make sure you are finding the right size ball for your needs. Some won’t offer a guide, so use ours as it is pretty universal across all companies.
As always, make sure you purchase from a reputable retailer that will allow you to exchange the product in case it comes in the wrong size or you get one that didn’t get pulled off the line in quality assurance.
The ball should last you a while, so don’t hesitate to exchange one that has you concerned.