How to Find the Right Size Exercise Ball for You

Older woman with exercise ball

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Exercise balls, or stability balls, are useful for workouts or for use as a chair. They add a core stability challenge to just about any exercise. It is essential to get the correct exercise ball size for your body and purpose. Making sure that the size and firmness of your exercise ball is appropriate will provide an optimal workout.

Exercise Ball Size Chart

Choose an exercise ball size that is proportional to your height. You want to be able to sit on your ball with your legs at a 90-degree angle or slightly more, but not less. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground or angled slightly down. With your feet flat on the floor and spine straight (not leaning forward, backward, or sideways), your knees should be even with or slightly lower than your hips. 

Use this guide from the American Council on Exercise when choosing a stability ball.

 Height  Exercise Ball Size
Under 5' 45 cm
Between 5’ and 5’5” 55 cm
Between 5’6 and 6’2” 65 cm
Over 6’2” 75 cm

Getting the right exercise ball for your weight also matters. If you are heavy for your height, you may need a larger ball to keep your knees and legs at the correct angle. Look for a durable, thick ball with high burst resistance. Check the weight rating on the ball before buying.

Exercise Ball Inflation

For most exercise purposes, you want to have a little give on the surface of the ball. When you sit on the exercise ball, your body weight should create a little seat. This provides more stability, but more importantly, it allows you to sit evenly on the ball. It is essential to exercise with good alignment.

The more inflated the ball is, the more difficult it will be to balance on it, whether sitting or in another position. So inflation is a matter of preference, but avoid inflating the ball so far that it is at risk of bursting. Your ball may require reinflation from time to time. Most are sold with a small pump for this purpose. 

What to Do With Your Exercise Ball

Exercise balls are highly versatile as an inexpensive, easy-to-use home workout tool. Exercise balls are particularly beneficial for improving core strength and stability.

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  1. American Council on Exercise. Strengthen your abdominals with stability balls. Published January 29, 2009.