What Size Exercise Ball is Best for Sitting at Desk?

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One of the newest trends in office ergonomics is the use of exercise balls to replace an office chair. While the overall benefits are still debatable, switching things up by using these colorful stability balls can be a fun way to promote healthy activities at the office.

What size exercise ball is best for sitting at the desk? Use a 26 inch (65 cm) exercise ball if your desk is the industry-standard height of 30 inches (76 cm). Additionally, choose a ball that is 4 inches (10 cm) taller than the height of the chair you're replacing because the ball will deflate once you sit on it.

It’s important to note, however, the above size is just a general recommendation. There are many factors in choosing the right size. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how to choose the best exercise ball size for sitting at your desk to help you achieve proper balance and stability. 

Which Size Exercise Ball Should I Buy?

Exercise balls are measured in centimeters and come in five industry-standard sizes: 45 cm, 55 cm, 65 cm, 75 cm, and 85 cm. These measurements indicate the height of the ball once it’s fully inflated. For general exercise applications, the most common ball size is the 65 cm ball, best used for anyone between 5’9” to 6’2” tall.

To choose the best exercise ball size for you, measure the distance between the floor and your knees. That's the size you want to go for. If your knee measurement is between ball sizes, buy the larger ball and under-inflate it. Your hips and knees should bend at a 90-degree angle when you sit on the ball.

Hard-to-find 85 cm exercise balls are ideal for individuals over 6’8” tall. To make things easier for you, use the chart below to choose the perfect exercise ball size based on your height:

Person's Height

Exercise Ball Diameter

5' and under

XSMALL 45 cm (17 inches)

5'1" - 5'8"

SMALL 55 cm (22 inches)

5'9" - 6'2"

MEDIUM 65 cm (26 inches)

6'3" - 6'7"

LARGE 75 cm (30 inches)

6'8" and taller

XLARGE 85 cm (35 inches)

While the above chart is for general exercise purposes, choosing the ideal ball size to use as an office chair is slightly different. The University of Minnesota Extension recommends using an exercise ball that is one size larger for sitting at a desk. This is because the ball will deflate slightly when you're sitting on it.

To be honest with you, we don’t recommend using an exercise ball as a permanent replacement for office chairs. An exercise ball is better suited to switch things up every once in a while. If you want to focus on producing high-quality work, you’ll find better comfort by choosing the right ergonomic office chair.

However, if you want to give exercise balls a try, be sure to find one from a reputable brand. We found one that is equipped with an anti-burst coating and non-slip surface. It also comes with a free workout guide and simple instructions for you to follow along. You can check out this exercise ball right here.

How Much Do I Inflate My Exercise Ball?

The best way to know that you’ve inflated your exercise ball properly is to measure the height of the ball once it’s fully inflated. Here are the simple steps to achieve the right measurements when inflating an exercise ball:

  • Make a pencil mark on the wall - depending on your exercise ball, use a pencil to mark either 22 inches, 26 inches, or 30 inches on the wall.
  • Inflate the ball - use the pencil mark to match the height of your exercise ball. Once the ball reaches the mark, it’s fully inflated.
  • Don’t over-inflate the ball - the exercise ball can burst if it’s inflated more than it’s indicated size. 

Remember, the harder the ball, the more difficult it is to use for yoga and exercise. If you suffer from lower back or hip problems, or if you have longer legs, it’s best to choose a larger ball size. This will make sure that you achieve equal weight distribution while having both feet flat on the ground. 

Businesswoman Leaning On Chair With Fitness Ball While Working On Computer

Related Questions to Exercise Ball Sizes

1. Is it healthy to sit on an exercise ball at work?

While there are some benefits to using an exercise ball as an office chair (including burning 4 calories per hour), the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. In general, you can use the exercise ball to sit. Whether the ball is high enough for you depends on a number of factors, including your desk height.

Many exercise ball users have reported less comfort when compared to using a regular office chair. We’ve actually done research on this issue and wrote an article busting the myths surrounding the benefits (or non-benefits) of using exercise balls for chairs. You can read our article right here.

2. How long should you sit on an exercise ball at work?

If you decide to sit on an exercise ball at work, the best time to spend sitting is around 20 minutes per session. When using the ball for the first time, chances are you need time to get used to it. This is a good thing because sitting for more than 20 minutes at a time may cause harm to your health in the long run.

Sitting for too long is bad for you. Period. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in an exercise ball or an office chair. We recommend using the exercise ball to alternate with the office chair. The goal is to promote less sitting time and more activity during your working hours. 

3. Does sitting on an exercise ball help with sciatica?

No, sitting on an exercise ball will not help sciatica. Because of the unstable nature of the balls, finding proper balance can be a challenge. Not to mention, you won’t find back support when sitting on an exercise ball. Many early adopters have reported increased pain, specifically in the lower back region.

If you’re dealing with sciatica, learning how to sit correctly is important to find comfort, especially when you are required to sit at work. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help sciatica sufferers during work to help you achieve maximum productivity. You can check out our article right here.

Final Takeaways

And there you have it, a simple guide to answer the question: what size exercise ball is best for sitting at a desk? Not only is choosing the right size important for your comfort, but it’s also important to prevent unwanted injuries. Remember to buy one from a reputable brand should you decide to try it out.

In all honesty, we just can't see the advantage of using an exercise ball as an office chair. If your biggest concern is finding the proper sitting posture, you’re better off finding the right ergonomic office chair. Most options nowadays are relatively affordable and come with features designed to maximize your posture.

Remember to stay active and move regularly to help fight the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. We hope you find health and fulfillment wherever you are. 🙂

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