Exercise balls are basically large and firm inflatable bouncy balls. Instead of being used for play, these elastic balls are meant as workout aids. They can be used to strengthen a variety of different muscle groups, and since they’re so versatile, they’ve become a staple in public and home gyms.
Why buy an exercise ball?
If you prefer to work out at home rather than paying for a gym membership, an exercise ball is a worthy addition to your home gym. They’re probably best known for use in core-strengthening exercises, but you can use an exercise ball in other workouts, too. Along with your core, they can work your arms, back, legs, or even be used in full-body workouts. Exercise balls are also great for improving your balance, coordination, and flexibility. You can even incorporate them into yoga exercises. They’re also a regular fixture in various physiotherapeutic exercises; if you have lower back pain or similar issues, a physical therapist may give you stretches or a routine to do at home that involves an exercise ball.
If you don’t have the storage space for a big workout machine or bulky weight sets, an exercise ball can be a huge asset since it can be inflated and deflated as needed. And they’re generally a lot less money than exercise machines like stair steppers or treadmills.
What should you look for in exercise balls?
- Size: Exercise balls tend to range in size from 45 to 85 centimeters (roughly 17 to 35 inches) in diameter. The proper size for you will depend on your height. Your hips should be level with or slightly higher than your knees when you’re sitting on top of your exercise ball. A 55- to 65-centimeter (17- to 22-inch) exercise ball will be the right size for most people unless you’re much shorter or taller than average. And don’t forget that you can deflate the ball a little bit if need be. There are extra-small exercise balls (around 9-10 inches in diameter), usually for leg-only exercises.
- Durability: Keep an eye out for anti-burst or burst-resistant exercise balls that are less likely to give out underneath you while you’re working out or puncture if they accidentally come into contact with a sharp object. Nonslip models are also a good choice since they’re less likely to roll out from under you and onto something sharp, like a table corner. And the thicker and better quality the PVC or base material is, the stronger the ball will be.
- Color: Exercise balls come in just about every color or shade that you could want. Whether you like solid colors, dark or light shades, multicolored models, or even patterned or tie-dye designs, there’s an exercise ball that’ll suit your tastes. There are even some models with removable covers, which may be reversible if you ever want to mix things up a bit.
What’s the difference between exercise balls and yoga/medicine balls?
People use the terms exercise balls and yoga balls interchangeably; there’s no real difference between them besides the name. Pilates balls, Swiss balls, and physio balls are other common alternate names for exercise balls. Don’t worry about accidentally buying the wrong product if the exercise ball you want is listed under one of these names.
Medicine balls, on the other hand, are quite different, though they’re also used for working out, exercising, rehab, and physical therapy. Medicine balls are smaller but heavier. Though they’re meant for the same sort of activities as exercise balls, medicine balls tend to be used for rolling, throwing, and catching movements. Exercise balls, on the other hand, tend to be for sitting on and performing exercises like push-ups, planks, or stretching.
URBNFit Exercise Ball
This exercise ball can do it all, whether you plan to use it for fitness, pregnancy, or a desk chair, and it comes with its own pump.
Pros: There are 11 different colors available for this multifunctional exercise ball, and it can be bought in five different sizes as well. Even the smallest version can support up to 600 pounds. A nice dual action air pump comes with your purchase for easy inflation, and it should only take a few minutes to fill up the exercise ball when you’re ready to work out.
Cons: Though this exercise ball does offer a nice color variety, it’s only available in solid colors. There aren’t any multicolored or patterned designs available, and some users people found that the 65-centimeter model might not measure up correctly.
Bottom Line: Whatever task you intended to use your new exercise ball for, this model has you covered. It’s equally great for exercise, stretches, yoga, pregnancy, or even as a desk chair. The price varies slightly depending on which size and color you pick, but whatever model you choose, you’ll get a good value.
Trideer Extra Thick Yoga Ball
If you need an oversized exercise ball or one capable of supporting a ton of weight, this is the model for you.
Pros: While most exercise balls have a pretty good weight capacity, this one goes above and beyond; it’s capable of supporting up to an impressive 2,200 pounds, plenty strong enough to hold a grown adult. The extra-thick PVC increases its strength and security, as do its anti-slip and anti-burst, slow deflation tendencies. Along with the exercise ball itself, you also get a foot pump for quick and easy inflation, as well as two air stoppers and an instruction booklet with detailed directions.
Cons: This exercise ball is a bit pricier than most due to its larger size. It shouldn’t break the bank for most people, but keep in mind that it will cost you a little more money. This model also doesn’t do well when it’s in contact with wood or paint, so try to keep it away from wooden furniture, woodwork, and painted walls or floors when using this exercise ball.
Bottom Line: If you need an extra-large exercise ball, this is the one for you. The weight capacity is high enough to support even the largest and tallest adults. Its size and high weight capacity make it a great choice for a desk chair. If you like this ball, but the extra-large size is too big for you, several smaller sizes are available, too.
Trideer Dreamy Exercise Ball
Bring a touch of color and flair to your workout with this exercise ball.
Pros: The lovely, colorful tie dye-like pattern of this exercise ball will look lovely. This model has what you want in your exercise ball. It’s nonslip and anti-burst for your safety with an internal honeycomb structure that makes it even harder to puncture. As a bonus, a foot pump and two air stoppers and instructions come with your purchase if you need some guidance.
Cons: As lovely as this exercise ball is, you’re a bit limited in the actual color choices. There are only two color options, so if you don’t like the shade or design, you’ll have to look for a different exercise ball. It also doesn’t come in larger sizes (65 cm is the biggest option). It doesn’t do great on wood and paint, so try not to use this model on either surface.
Bottom Line: This exercise ball is the perfect blend of aesthetic and functional. It’ll look great in your home gym but also provide a worthwhile, safe workout or stretching session when in use. Just be sure to keep it away from pets and wooden or painted surfaces.
ProBody Pilates Mini Exercise Ball
The miniature size of this exercise ball make it the ideal choice for certain leg exercises, stretches, and yoga poses.
Pros: The great thing about miniature exercise balls like this one is that they’re quite affordable. Exercise balls aren’t super pricey to begin with, and this one is especially inexpensive yet still high-quality. It’s also nice and soft to the touch and is extremely easy to get a grip on, unlike some super smooth models. You can buy this little exercise ball in seven different colors to best suit your home and other workout equipment.
Cons: Be prepared to inflate this exercise ball yourself, as it doesn’t come with any sort of air pump. A straw comes included, so you can inflate it with your own breath like a balloon, but this will take longer and is more work. While the miniature size is great for its intended purposes, there aren’t any bigger sizes available if you like this exercise ball and want to buy it in a more standard size.
Bottom Line: Sometimes smaller is better when it comes to exercise balls. A miniature model like this one is perfect for certain leg and core exercises or stretches that can’t be achieved with a full-sized model. That’s where this smaller, easy-grip exercise ball comes in handy.
MANTRA SPORTS Exercise Ball Chair With Resistance Bands
If you haven't used an exercise ball in your workouts before, this model helps point you in the right direction to get started.
Pros: While it is a little more expensive, this is actually quite a high-value bundle due to all the extra tools and equipment that come with this exercise ball. Besides the ball itself, you receive a pair of resistance bands, a foot pump, an inflation tape measure, an exercise wall poster, a ball base with plugs, a set of extra air plugs, and a plug remover. So you end paying less money for this whole bundle than you would buying each piece individually. The base gives the exercise ball extra stability for workouts and sitting at your desk, while the poster gives you a great jumping-off point for shaping your new workout routine.
Cons: Your size options are a bit more limited with this exercise ball. While it’s available in three different sizes, this doesn’t include extra-large or extra-small sizes. And there are only three color options to choose from, so there is less variety offered than similar models.
Bottom Line: If you’ve never used an exercise ball to work out before, this set is a great place to start. Between the poster with workout suggestions (which also demonstrates proper form) and the base for extra stability, it offers plenty of guidance and peace of mind for beginners. It’s also a great option if you’re just starting to build your home gym.
If you’re trying to build your home gym or spice up your current workout routine, an exercise ball is an excellent investment. They can make classic exercises like push-ups and sit-ups more challenging and effective without breaking the bank. Check out our selections to get pointed in the right direction.