Updated January 2022
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Buying guide for best balance ball chairs

Balance balls, exercise balls, or Swiss balls are large inflatable balls that people use for all sorts of imaginative exercises. Some people have even started sitting on them at work. But balance balls tend to roll out from under people when they move or reach across the desk for a pen or a cup of coffee. That’s why manufacturers started building bases for balance balls.

The bases led to the creation of true chairs using balance balls as the seat of the chair. Now it’s possible to get the many benefits of balance balls without having to worry about them rolling out from under you when you move the wrong way. Choosing the right balance ball chair can be confusing, though. The differences between balance ball chairs aren’t always immediately obvious.

Our buying guide details everything you need to consider when shopping for balance ball chairs, including how much you should pay. For our picks for the top five balance ball chairs on the market, see the matrix above.

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It is well known that good physical health is a major contributor to good mental health. If you feel better physically when using a balance ball chair, you may find you are better able to focus on your work.

Key considerations

The most important factor when choosing a balance ball chair is size. There are two sizes to consider: your size and the size of the exercise ball, and they are related. The larger you are, the larger the balance ball needs to be.

When you sit on any chair, including a balance ball chair, if you sit upright with your back straight, your thighs should be parallel to the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle as well, and your forearms, wrists, and hands should form a straight line to the top of your desk, parallel to the floor.

A shorter person needs a smaller balance ball than someone who is taller. Here are some basic guidelines for balance balls:

  • Shorter than 4’10”: Choose a balance ball that is 12 to 13.5 inches in diameter.
  • 4’10” to 5’5”: Choose a balance ball that is 18 inches in diameter.
  • 5’6” to 6’0”: Choose a balance ball that is 22 inches in diameter.
  • 6’1” to 6’5”: Choose a balance ball that is 26 inches in diameter.
  • Taller than 6’5”: Choose a balance ball that is 30 inches in diameter.

For balance balls with a chair base, like those we’re discussing here, take about three inches off the diameter to get the correct size for your height.

The more you weigh, the larger the balance ball should be. The above balance ball guidelines are based on average weight per height. For every 50 pounds above this norm, it’s best to add another one to two inches in diameter to the size of the balance ball.



Balance balls are typically made of elastic vinyl or plastic. The base of the chair is usually made of ABS plastic, with rolling casters. Depending on the manufacturer, the legs and backrest may be made of steel. Foam may be used to cover some of the backrests on balance ball chairs.


Most balance ball chairs have a low backrest so they can be used more like traditional desk chairs. Having a backrest makes sitting on a balance ball chair more comfortable. Some purists dislike backrests, and we won’t argue. However, most of the new balance ball chairs have backrests. If you don’t want a backrest, you can simply leave it off when you assemble the balance ball chair.


Black is the most common color for the chair itself, but balance balls come in a range of colors, including bright primary hues. If you’re not able to find the color you like paired with the base you like, you can buy balance balls separately in your color of choice.


Leg extenders: Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair Leg Extenders
These Gaiam leg extenders add two inches to any Gaiam Classic balance ball chair. They attach to the bottom of the legs, and then the chair’s casters attach to the extenders. For tall people who need more height, these leg extenders are ideal.

Air pumps: Under Armour Dual-Action Ball Pump
If you need an air pump to inflate your balance ball, this one from Under Armour has a pressure gauge and a pressure-relief valve so you can get exactly the right pressure for your balance ball chair.

Balance balls: Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair Ball
Accidents happen, and if something happens to the balance ball on your chair, these replacement balance balls from Gaiam are available in eight colors to complement any home or office.

Balance ball chair prices

Inexpensive: Under $35 is the low price range for balance ball chairs. Here you’ll find either smaller chairs for children with built-in legs or chairs that use a ring on the floor as the base to keep the ball in place.

Mid-range: Between $35 and $100 is the middle price range for balance ball chairs. Most of the good balance ball chairs on the market are in this range.

Expensive: Over $100 is the high price range. Balance ball chairs in this range may have armrests and enhanced backs similar to normal office chairs. You’ll find smaller, sleeker chairs in this price range as well.


  • Use the balance ball chair for short stretches of time when you first get it. Your body has to gradually get used to the new way of sitting, and you can stress yourself and hurt your back if you don’t work up to it a step at a time.
  • Sit on your new balance ball chair for about 15 minutes before switching back to your old desk chair for an hour. Then repeat. Gradually increase the length of time you spend on the balance ball chair until it’s the only one you’re using.
  • The first time you inflate the balance ball, it won’t inflate to its full size. Pump it up, then wait 24 hours. Let out about half the air and reinflate it. The balance ball should be stretched out enough by then to inflate to its full size.
  • Read the exercise guide that comes with most balance ball chairs. It will have a number of easy exercises you can do right at your desk throughout the day to stay physically active even when you’re sitting down.
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The balance ball can be lifted out of the base of the chair for use in a full workout, then returned when you’re ready to sit at your desk.


Q. Do balance ball chairs really improve your posture?
If you sit correctly, yes. But it’s just as easy to slump on a balance ball chair as it is on any other office chair, so be mindful of your posture when sitting on a balance ball chair.

Q. Does sitting on a balance ball chair really burn more calories than sitting on a regular chair?
Yes. Your body is constantly making small adjustments to stay balanced on the ball, and those tiny movements burn calories. That said, it’s not very much, about four to five calories an hour, according to the best estimates.

Q. Will balance ball chairs last as long as regular office chairs?
The material in balance ball chairs is very rugged and durable. With proper care, your new chair may even last longer than a regular office chair. You can also replace the balance ball if needed.

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