We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
Updated Jan 3, 2023 1:23 PM
Experts announced long ago that sitting down all day just isn’t good for you. Slumping over at your desk for hours on end can make your back hurt, your body tense, and your neck strain. It can also lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Doctors recommend taking a break from sitting every thirty to sixty minutes, but we know that sticking with that schedule can be a challenge during a hectic workday or extra-long meeting. Luckily, a ball chair can remedy these issues.
The best ball chair, which incorporates a stability ball used for exercise, can introduce a little bit of movement to your workday while engaging the core and improving posture. The ball’s instability forces you to engage your trunk and abdominal muscles to remain balanced, but don’t worry; you won’t find yourself sweating or out of breath. In fact, you’ll barely notice all the work your body is doing. This kind of subtle physical engagement can help improve posture and reduce back pain; the stronger your muscles are, the more they can support and protect your back. We recommend swapping out your regular desk chair with a ball chair for one to two hours a day to stay safe and active without overworking your body.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to ball chairs; many of them even look identical to one another. Here, we dive deeper than the exterior and help you identify the best pick for you.
Best ball chairs: Our picks
Best with base: Gaiam Backless Balance Ball Chair
This Gaiam ball chair features a removable, multi-use 52-centimeter exercise ball, available in five colors. The entire unit measures 24 inches tall and 22 inches wide, with the option to add two-inch extenders to the legs. The included caster wheels lock in place so you can remain flexible without sliding around. This particular chair is designed for people between 5′ and 5′11″ tall (6′1″ with the extensions). The backless design will encourage you to use your muscles and keep you from leaning too far forward or back, harming your spine.
Best self-standing: ProBody Pilates Ball Chair
This self-standing ProBody ball chair provides all the support of a typical exercise ball with a bit of a sleeker finish. Instead of exposed plastic vinyl, you’ll sit on a washable fabric cover that comes in three neutral tones. The cover’s base comes with silicone tabs to keep it from slipping, and the inner ball is made from phthalate-free, anti-burst material. It can be inflated between 22 to 24 inches high, suitable for most standard desk heights. The ball can also be removed from the cover for an enhanced grip during a workout.
Best yoga ball stool: Gaiam Balance Ball Stool
Gaiam is at it again, this time with a great yoga ball stool. The half-dome inflatable cushion causes micro-movements to strengthen the core and improve posture (at the right height). It can extend up to 33 inches with a 360-degree swivel base and five lockable caster wheels. This seat also includes a metal footrest, which is necessary for good posture if your feet don’t touch the floor.
Best ergonomic: PharMeDoc Balance Ball Chair
PharMeDoc has created an ergonomic ball chair that you can customize as your core gets stronger. Use the 20-inch exercise ball on its own for concentrated strength and stability workouts, or drop it into the base with a fitted backrest for work. Once you start to feel your muscles develop and you notice your posture improve, you can take the backrest off for more of a challenge.
Best stylish: Zenergy Ball Chair
This ball chair from Zenergy keeps your body moving and your workstation looking chic. The yoga ball at the heart of this design is permanently covered by a simple, comfortable mesh available in over ten colors. The chair lets you choose between two heights, 20 or 23 inches, by installing the feet or attaching them to longer legs. You can also select a swivel version of the chair, increasing the range of motion and the amount of work your body needs to do to stay stationary. If you work with others, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a set.
Best budget: Trideer Ball Chair
This balance ball from Trideer is perfect for stretching, stability, and strength training. Plus, it comes with an inflatable base for easy conversion into a great ball chair. It comes in two sizes: 26 and 30 inches and two colors: black and silver. Plus, it’s super durable, slip-resistant, and rated for up to 2,000 pounds.
Things to consider when shopping for the best ball chairs
If you don’t already own a yoga ball, chances are you might be a bit overwhelmed by the similar-looking options available to you. Before purchasing, take a moment to think about your needs. Do you need a chair on wheels? Would you prefer back support? Do you want something multi-purpose, or would you rather stick with something more stylish? We’ll walk you through a few scenarios so you can get a sense of the best ball chair for your home office.
Do you want a balance chair with a base?
If you aren’t used to sitting on an exercise ball, and you like the stability of your regular desk variety, we recommend you buy one with a base. The base will stabilize the ball, keeping it from slipping out from under you, helping you get used to the seat’s elasticity and bounce. It will also elevate the ball, so you might have an easier time reaching your desk surface, depending on its height. Remember, the best way to sit at a desk includes your feet flat on the floor, your chin parallel to the ground, no bend in your neck, and computer screen at eye level; this is true whether you’re sitting on a balance ball, circle stool, or classic office chair.
Some ball chair bases will have adjustable, extendable legs and wheels. Castor wheels are always a plus; they make it easier to roll and store a chair, plus it’s easy (and fun) to slide around the room if you need a document or device that isn’t already at your desk. A ball chair with a base and wheels will likely feel the most similar to your regular desk chair, making for a seamless transition.
Would you prefer a self-standing ball chair?
A self-standing ball chair forgoes the base in favor of ultimate flexibility. If you feel like your desk is low enough for a baseless ball chair, you can focus your attention on finding a great exercise ball that you’d be comfortable bouncing on for a few hours during the workday.
If you’re going to use this ball for exercise and desk work, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the size. Since there isn’t a base boosting you up, if you’re between 4′11″ to 5′4″, get a ball that is 55 centimeters, if you’re 5′5″ to 5′11″, go for one that is 65 centimeters, and if you’re any taller, up to 6′7″, check out the 75-centimeter options.
The one con about self-standing ball chairs is they tend to look like workout equipment first and office furniture second. This isn’t a big deal if you’re going to get the most out of the ball during exercise or if you have a large enough closet to store the ball out of sight when it’s not in use. If you’re invested in aesthetics, select a ball chair with an included cover or non-polyvinyl exterior. See below for a prime example of a fantastic self-standing ball that looks good while remaining functional.
Do you work at a tall desk? Try a yoga ball stool
Ball chairs are adjustable to a certain extent, but you might find the fit challenging if you work at a tall desk. While we don’t recommend employing a typical stool for your workstation, a yoga ball stool can be a great way to give your back a break.
A yoga ball stool looks just like a regular stool, but instead of a cushion, the seat is a mini version of an inflated exercise ball, like a dome. Ball stools are inflated at the top, mimicking a full yoga ball’s intentional instability but taller and thinner to fit non-standard size desks. Most yoga ball stools utilize simple hydraulics so you can work at various heights. Of course, the ball cushion at the end of these stools won’t be removable, so you won’t be able to use them for exercise. If you are dedicated to getting something multi-purpose, we recommend investing in balance ball disks you can lay on top of your traditional desk chair seat. These cushions can also be used for various stability exercises in your workout routine.
If you suffer from back pain, an ergonomic ball chair can help
When appropriately used, the best ball chair will help you create healthy habits, improve your posture, and relieve back pain. If you are already struggling to sit up straight, a backless ball chair might not be for you; choosing a more ergonomic option can bring on more benefits quickly.
A backless ball can occasionally lead to hunching if you allow your tailbone to curve too far underneath you, forcing your shoulders forward and exaggerating a curved spine. An ergonomic ball chair will include a backrest and a flexible base. This will allow you to keep your feet flat on the floor while providing more structure and support for your lower back.
Remember, you don’t want to sit on a yoga ball all day long, so while you’re at it, make sure your other desk furniture is ergonomic too. It’s also a good idea to check your desk setup; your screen should be at eye level, your keyboard within reach, and your mouse directly next to it. Consider investing in a headset if you take lots of calls, eliminating tension caused by holding your phone between the neck and shoulders.
Home office design important? Get a ball chair that doesn’t look like exercise equipment.
Maybe you want to keep your workouts and work-from-home aesthetics separate. Or perhaps you’re a part of a shared workspace. Regardless of the reason, we totally understand wanting to find a ball chair that looks like it’s meant for the office. If you still want to use the ball for additional exercise, the easiest thing to look for will be an included cover. A cloth design in any color will camouflage the athletic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material underneath, giving off more of a cozy beanbag vibe. Once you’re done with your workday, you’ll easily be able to unzip it and get to sweating.
If you want something compact that can stay out in the open all day without reminding you of the gym, look for a stylish, non-traditional model. These units will typically be permanently attached to a base and covered with a sleek, sturdy material, or they’ll borrow from ball chair technology to create more of a swivel stool.
Best ball chair on a budget: What you can get for under $45
While some ball chairs can be a bit expensive, there are definitely options for those on a budget. You might not be able to find something that doesn’t evoke exercise or the gym, but you will be able to find the best ball chair that’s supportive and multi-purpose to help fight off pain and strain without breaking the bank.
Q: Does sitting on a ball chair burn calories?
Yes, sitting on an exercise ball chair can burn a small number of calories. According to a 2008 study cited in the New York Times, sitting on a ball chair can burn roughly 30 more calories a day than sitting in a regular desk chair, or approximately four more calories per hour of use.
Q: How long should you sit on a yoga ball chair?
You should sit on your yoga ball chair for about one to two hours a day. This is just enough time to break the monotony of sitting in a classic desk chair without overdoing it. If you stick with the yoga ball for your entire workday, your back might just end up suffering instead of feeling better. This is because yoga balls lack the structure to stop you from slumping once your body starts to get tired. So, unless you’re super disciplined regarding posture, it’s best to pick just a couple of hours to bounce.
Q: Are there other alternatives to a traditional desk chair?
Yes, there are other alternatives to a traditional desk chair. Kneeling chairs, active stools, and saddle seats are great options to explore if you are looking for an ergonomic solution to back, neck, and shoulder strain. You can also look for traditional desk chairs designed with special features or customizable options to foster additional support. The best desk chair for your home office should never leave you feeling sore.
Ready to buy the best ball chair?
The best ball chair will support your back, improve your posture, strengthen your core, and inspire healthy habits throughout the day. Supplementing your regular desk chair for a few hours each day can keep you active, your mind focused, and your joints relaxed. Make sure you choose the right size for you and your desk, then get ready to add a little bounce to your workday.