Are you in search of some high-quality fitness balls? We have just the guide to help you make the right choice.
Fitness balls (also known as Swiss balls, exercise balls, Pilates balls, therapy balls, birth balls, etc.) are highly compressible, heavy-duty inflatable balls used while exercising. They range in diameter from 18 to 30 inches (about 45 to 75 cm), and may be made of elastic vinyl or plastic. Stability balls work great in targeting your upper body, lower body, and core. Meanwhile, Swiss balls offer fun and effective cardio and strength exercise options.
With the many variations available, picking the right gym balls can be a challenge, but the following guide will answer most of your questions. Here you’ll learn about the key features of fitness balls to keep in check while buying and other tips that can help you avoid low-quality products.
Table of Contents
- How Does the Material of a Fitness Ball Affect Its Properties?
- Which Fitness Ball Size Should I Choose?
- Does Weight Matter While Buying a Yoga Ball?
- What Factors Influence the Anti-Burst Properties of a Fitness Ball?
- What Features Determine the Anti-Slide Properties of Exercise Balls?
- What Is the Supported Weight Limit of an Exercise Ball?
- How Durable are Exercise Balls?
- What Are Some Tips and Techniques to Inflate Exercise Balls?
- How Long Do Exercise Balls Maintain Their Shape without Needing to Be Re-Inflated?
- Do Fitness Balls Smell?
- Can the Color of an Exercise Ball Affect Performance?
- What are Some Extra Accessories that often Come with Fitness Balls?
- What Are Some Do’s and Don’ts of Buying Fitness Balls?
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How Does the Material of a Fitness Ball Affect Its Properties?
While fitness balls are most commonly made of soft PVC, other materials are also in use, such as TPE, NBR, and rubber. PVC balls are either made from recycled content or have eco-friendly manufacturing.
Eco-friendly balls come in matte colors, are more elastic, and more resistant to wear and tear. Recycled fitness balls, on the other hand, seem a bit roughly manufactured, with a strong odor and a shinier appearance.
Exercise balls are made safe to use by manufacturing them with burst-resistant PVC that is highly elastic and tough. The thicker the PVC, the less likely it is to explode during use. Good-quality PVC keeps your ball in good shape even after sitting over it for a while or using it in high-intensity workouts. It is the crucial ingredient of yoga ball plastic, making it expandable and giving it just the bounce you need for gym use.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is also available in unmodified form, which is its state right after polymerization. However, this is still not suitable for use in fitness balls, so additives are used to make PVC with some favorable modifications in its properties. These additives may be anything from flame retardants to heat stabilizers or impact modifiers.
While rubber exercise balls are quite rare, some may have latex as an ingredient. If you are sensitive to the material, you should always check with the manufacturer to make sure you’re getting a latex-free gym ball.
PVC Yoga Ball
Rubber Yoga Ball
NBR Yoga Ball
Which Fitness Ball Size Should I Choose?
Fitness balls are available in lots of different sizes. These are meant to be used by individuals of different heights so that they can maintain proper form during exercise.
The diameter of a stability ball is what’s used to indicate its size. Fully blow up your stability ball and use a tape measure around its mid to find out the diameter. The best size to go for is determined by your height and the activity you plan on using the ball for.
Sit on the exercise ball like you would on a chair. If your knees seem to be pointing up and your thighs are at a lower level, you need a larger ball. Alternately, if your feet aren’t touching the ground easily, you need a smaller fitness ball.
Appropriate Ball Sizes for Different Heights
Recommended Ball Size
Below 5 ft
45cm (mini fitness ball)
5ft to 5ft 8in
55cm (small fitness ball)
5ft 9in to 6ft 2in
65cm (medium fitness ball)
Above 6ft 3in
75cm (large fitness ball)
We always recommend going for a bigger ball if:
- You have long legs
- You’re overweight
- You suffer from back issues
- You only need a stability ball to stretch
If you have shorter legs, or you have a lower BMI, a smaller yoga ball would be better for you.
Wondering how to determine the right size for yourself while shopping online? You just need some measuring tape and a little bit of effort.
Squat with your back next to a wall, bringing your thighs parallel to the floor, bending your knees at right angles. Mark the wall at the level of your hip, and measure the distance between the floor and this marking. That’s the fully inflated diameter of the right ball for you!
Before you stress too much about fitness ball size, though, you should know they’re somewhat adjustable. If your hips and knees are settling at odd angles, you can always add or release some air from it to make it fit you better.
Does Weight Matter While Buying a Yoga Ball?
Yes, you also need to keep the weight of yoga balls in check. As a general rule, for equally large exercise balls, always go for the heavier ones. While shopping for a fitness ball, ask the manufacturer about its weight to get an idea of its quality. Manufacturers offering high-quality yoga balls will often have the weight already mentioned among the specifications of the product.
What Factors Influence the Anti-Burst Properties of a Fitness Ball?
It’s common to find all fitness balls labeled as being anti-burst or burst-resistant. This indicates that you don’t have to worry about them popping, and in cases of a puncture, you can expect them to slowly (and safely) deflate instead.
Better materials and a fine-tuned manufacturing procedure are what makes the ideal anti-burst yoga ball. For instance, some Swiss balls have honeycomb structures that make many burst-proof bubbles on the ball surface. These bubbles prevent any cracks or punctures from expanding further, avoiding explosions. Others have a keel-like explosion-resistant feature added inside them, which makes them tough even under high pressure.
The thickness of PVC is an important factor that determines your sports ball quality. The thinner the ball, the lower quality it generally is, and the higher risk it has of popping during use. Always opt for thicker PVC balls to ensure safety and maximize durability.
It’s best to have your fitness ball tested for anti-burst properties before buying. This is essential to ensure your safety during use. A slowly deflating ball is always the right choice rather than one that explodes underneath you in case of accidental punctures!
One thing to remember is that balls labeled ‘burst-proof’ can also burst in some cases. This is why you should check for any signs of wear before starting each workout session. Clear the ground to make space for your ball workout, put away objects that could hurt you if you fall, and use your fitness ball indoors only.
What Features Determine the Anti-Slide Properties of Exercise Balls?
The anti-slide features of stability balls are essential to prevent any slipping and falling accidents during use. Balls with a non-slip design offer better control and are generally safer to exercise with.
The texture of an exercise ball can indicate its anti-slip properties. What you need is something that moves around smoothly, but still offers enough grip to stay in place while you exercise. Extra-smooth surfaces can cause balls to slide around dangerously during use. However, too-sticky textures, while avoiding sliding, can get dirty quickly by catching lint, hair, and grime.
What Is the Supported Weight Limit of an Exercise Ball?
Different fitness balls are made to support different amounts of weight. The limit of a body ball to withstand still weight and moving weight is different. The maximum weight supported by a stability ball when that weight is not moving over it is its static weight limit. The maximum moving weight supported by a physio ball without bursting, such as the maximum weight of an individual exercising with it, is the body weight limit.
Most balls offer a weight limit of around 250 lbs or 113 kg. However, more heavy-duty balls may have static weight limits of up to 2,200 lbs and a body weight limit of about 500 lbs.
How Durable are Exercise Balls?
If you’re determined to buy a ball that will stay in good condition after many uses, you should avoid thin, flimsy balls. Go for one that has a thick material.
Stability balls also have a limit to their usability. Most manufacturers don’t recommend using one after a year and suggest discarding it instead.
What Are Some Tips and Techniques to Inflate Exercise Balls?
You’ll need to inflate your fitness ball properly before you can start using it. While some balls have a pump included with their purchase, most of those are no good. This means that you’ll have to take care of inflating the ball yourself.
You can blow up an exercise ball on your own by using equipment like an air compressor or a bike pump. Make sure you fill them up to their correct diameter, as mentioned in the description. Exercise balls of some brands shouldn’t be inflated fully right after getting them out of the box. They need to stretch a bit, so we recommend filling a new ball up to 80%, leaving it overnight, and adding the remaining air the next day.
Here’s the simplest way to know whether you’ve blown up the ball to just the right size:
- Mark a wall with a pencil up to the size of your fitness ball. For instance, if your ball is supposed to have a 65 cm diameter, make a marking on a wall 65 cm above the floor.
- Inflate the ball while keeping it next to the wall you marked. Keep adding air until its topmost point is in line with your pencil marking.
- Sit on the ball to make sure you’ve blown it up just right – it should sink about 2 to 3 inches under your weight.
How Long Do Exercise Balls Maintain Their Shape without Needing to Be Re-Inflated?
It’s not uncommon to find an exercise ball slowly deflating over time. This causes a loss of sturdiness and eventually makes it unsuitable for use. A fitness ball that holds in the air well over time is a blessing since it doesn’t require frequent re-inflation, which can be a hassle.
It’s hard to say how far a stability ball will stay fully inflated. You can expect good-quality ones to work well for multiple exercise sessions without losing air, but it still depends on the kinds of exercises you use it for, and how long the ball is subjected to pressure. Moreover, environmental factors such as the temperature and humidity of your workout space also influence how long a ball can stay in shape.
Do Fitness Balls Smell?
Some yoga balls smell, while others don’t. The smell of a yoga ball can be a good indicator of whether it is made of non-toxic or safe materials. High-quality materials typically don’t give off any odor. On the other hand, cheap, toxic materials will impart a strong plastic smell to exercise balls. One way to know the safety or toxicity of fitness ball materials is by its GS certification (TUV test).
Can the Color of an Exercise Ball Affect Performance?
While this question may seem silly, it does have value because the answer is yes, it actually can! Psychology experts have reminded us time and again about how color can influence the way you feel. Your mood, therefore, will affect how motivated you are in your workout sessions.
We always recommend buying vibrant fitness balls to stay pumped during your workout. A dark or dull-colored ball could slow you down, while a bright one can cheer you up instantly.
What are Some Extra Accessories that often Come with Fitness Balls?
While it’s different among brands, some do offer extra accessories with the purchase of a fitness ball. These accessories commonly include air pumps to inflate the ball, or further add-ons to your workout like exercise bands, handles for the ball, measuring tape, instructional videos, and ring stands.
If you ‘re going to be inflating and deflating your ball often for storage, travel, or some other reason, we recommend buying an electric air pump along with a spare plug, if possible. This will make the process quite simple for you as compared to manual hand pumps or foot pumps that can be a hassle to use frequently.
What Are Some Do’s and Don’ts of Buying Fitness Balls?
While shopping for an exercise ball, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Go for thick, heavier PVC balls that are neither too slick nor too sticky. Non-toxic, latex-free, professional-standard PVC material is always best.
- Choose an exercise ball that will be able to accommodate your height. Your feet should be touching the floor, while your thighs remain parallel to the ground when you sit on it.
- Ask for a video of an anti-burst test of your fitness ball from its manufacturer. They should guarantee that the ball is burst-resistant. Small bubbles on an exercise ball indicate anti-burst features and may appear as tiny particles over its surface upon close inspection.
- Notice whether you have difficulty pulling out the stopper of your fitness ball. The harder it is to pull it out, the better its seal, and the more air it can hold over time without leaking.
- Go for an electric pump if you can, because manual hand and foot pumps can be low-quality and troubling to use.
- It’s better not to inflate a ball in one go fully. A partly inflated PVC ball should be allowed to rest and stretch overnight before blowing it up fully.
Exercise balls can be difficult to choose, with so many versions available in the market, but knowing what to go for and what to avoid can make it easier. Now that we’ve answered the most commonly asked questions about fitness balls, you can make an informed purchase.
In case of any other concerns regarding yoga balls, feel free to comment below, and we’ll get back to you. Until then, ciao!
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