Should You Sit on an Exercise Ball?

October 5, 2022

Some individuals substitute an exercise ball—also known as a yoga ball, balancing ball, or stability ball—instead of their standard desk chair to achieve "active sitting." The premise is that sitting on an exercise ball will prevent drooping and poor posture, which can occur even with ergonomic desk chairs (which are inherently unstable). Pushes your body's lower body and core to make minor changes all the time. It is hoped that this would lead to improved posture and abdominal strength.

Long periods spent sitting are unhealthy, according to researchers. But the results are less clear when it comes to how well an exercise ball works as a desk chair.

Benefits of Exercise Ball Chairs

Using an exercise ball is thought to have a variety of advantages, including better balance, increased energy, and better posture. The ball may also enhance energy expenditure, which translates to more calories expended because it stimulates frequent position changes.

In a 2017 study, researchers observed how participants' bodies responded throughout a 10-minute sitting time and came to the conclusion that sitting on a stability ball engaged the lower body muscles. Many supporters also think that sitting on a ball increases activity. One study even suggested that it might even improve core endurance. Once you've got the ball at hand, it's simple to roll away from the desk and perform a few exercises that will strengthen your core.

Drawbacks of Exercise Ball Chairs

According to several studies, there is little to no correlation between utilizing an exercise ball at work and the alleged advantages. Some of the evidence indicates the risk of harm.

  • No core activation: On the idea that sitting on an exercise ball strengthens the core, researchers are divided. While one study discovered that this type of active sitting activates the core muscles, others discovered no difference in how the core is used when sitting in an exercise ball compared to a standard desk chair.
  • Insignificant calorie burn: According to a 2015 study, if there is any additional energy expenditure when sitting on an exercise ball, it is probably minimal and insufficient to lower the health risks of prolonged sitting.
  • Increased pain: Back pain can result from prolonged sitting, but using a stability ball might have a similar impact. According to one study, over half of users of the ball experienced some discomfort.
  • Greater injury risk: There is a risk of injury if you lose your balance and fall off the exercise ball because the chair is unstable. If it breaks while you are sitting on it, you could also get injuries.


To get the most out of your new chair and maintain safety, keep these things in mind if you choose to utilize an exercise ball at your workplace.

Consider the Size

The height, angle, and inflation level of your ball all have an impact. The angle of your thighs should be somewhat downward rather than at 90 degrees. The ball, though, shouldn't be so high that you wind up having to support your wrists on the keyboard.

Create a Safe Space

Place your ball in front of a wall so that you can be caught if you fall, especially during early use and if you have the opportunity to design your workstation. For the same reason, placing an exercise mat beneath your ball can offer padding and support. Another choice is to utilize a base or frame to keep your ball chair in place. Some even offer lumbar support, which could protect your lower back by encouraging better posture (as long as it doesn't drastically alter it, which would increase low-back strain).

Add Time Gradually

Start with a half-hour or less when first utilizing a ball as a chair. To test your tolerance, gradually increase your duration each day.

Alternatives to Office Ball Chairs

You might wish to switch between an active workstation, a ball chair, and an ergonomic desk chair. There are more options besides ball chairs with frames, wheels, and lumbar support, like:

  • A sit-stand desk
  • A treadmill desk
  • A Deskcycle
  • An active sitting cushion

Numerous of these possibilities, according to research, can enhance energy expenditure without affecting your capacity to do your responsibilities. And they may even be more pleasant than chair-based sitting. Nevertheless, regular standing, walking, and stretch breaks are usually preferable options. More harmful than total sitting time is prolonged, continuous sitting.

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