Exercise Balls As Office Chairs: Is Sitting On A Ball Of Air A Good Idea?

Boing, boing, boing, boing… holding on grimly to the two rubber antennae as you bounce around the garden or beach, whooping with excitement on that toy bouncing ball. Inevitably you fall off course, never mind and you quickly jump back on and start again.

Did you ever have one of those bouncy balls as a kid? I know I did and yet I never imagined exercise balls might be used one day by people as office chairs.

What is an exercise ball chair?

exercise ball chair

Evolution Ball Chair


Exercise balls have been around for many years now and they are popular with people who want to keep fit and toned.

They are very resilient and extremely easy to use, you just need to inflate them and then you're all set.

Some people just use the ball on its own as a chair, however I don't think that's a good idea.

If you plan to use one, it's best go for a proper exercise ball chair and these days they are very popular with office workers.

Why have they taken off and what persuades people to use them
I think the biggest reason they are so popular as office seats is mainly down to the fact that some people are heartily fed up with the discomfort of their office chair. This is almost always due to the fact that they have only ever used cheap crappy chairs and so assume that all chairs are uncomfortable. They read about how wonderful ball chairs are and all the healthy benefits and decide to take the plunge.

Is an exercise ball a healthy office seat alternative?
Many people switching to a ball chair do so because they believe it is a healthier way to sit. However, the benefits of sitting on one and the health advantages of using it as a means of exercise, tend to become blurred.
Sitting on an exercise ball alone is not advisable because it requires you full attention in keeping balanced. As soon as your concentration lapses you may very well find yourself on the deck. This is particularly true when first getting used to one.

If you really like the idea of an exercise ball chair, much better to choose one that includes a frame as it has a number of benefits.

Advantages of a ball chair

  • They are very simple to use you only need inflate it to suit your body size
  • Cost effective and generally much cheaper than a good office chair
  • Very resilient and can take heavy users who may weigh 350lbs or more
  • Safe as an office chair provided it is the sort made for use as a chair
  • The ball can be removed and used as a means of exercise

Disadvantages of a ball chair

  • Some users have stability problems with them especially at first
  • Need to build up your core muscles for prolonged use
  • It can be difficult to maintain good back posture on models without back supports
  • Maneuverability can be more difficult than a conventional office chair
  • Many ergonomists are deeply skeptical about their benefits

Is an exercise ball a good choice as an office chair?
As you have seen there are advantages and disadvantages in using an exercise ball as your office chair. A ball on its own is not a good idea, it just isn't stable enough or practical in use. However, when you go for a proper ball chair with its own frame they can make good office seats. Best to go for one with castors, arms and a back because you'll find it a lot of easier to use.

And bear in mind, it may well take some time for your core muscles to build up. So be patient and get used to it gradually by sitting in it for short periods to begin with. After all, you don't want one of those boing, boing, bang moments from childhood, office floors and desk edges can be quite unforgiving.

Further reading
Many ergonomists don't recommend using ball chairs, you can read about their reasons here. And if you want to know more about what's available here's where you can find some reviews of ball chairs.


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2 Responses to “Exercise Balls As Office Chairs: Is Sitting On A Ball Of Air A Good Idea?”

  1. I agree that this might be a nice change up from a regular office chair for a stretch of about 20-30 minutes at a time. But I wouldn’t want to use one all day. I agree that getting a ball with a chair base is the safest choice.


  2. […] MacIntyre, everyone’s favorite chair advice blogger lays out the pros and cons in this great article. Check out the links at the end for opinions by ergonomics specialists on what can happen if you […]

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