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What is a Stability Ball?

By Erika Peterson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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If you have ever exercised in a yoga or Pilates studio, you have most likely seen and used a stability ball. This piece of exercise equipment is a large rubber ball that is also often referred to as an exercise ball. While sizes of a stability ball can vary with function and use, the most common diameter ranges between 55 to 65 centimeters (21.6 to 25.5 inches).

Stability balls, or exercise balls, are large and inflatable rubber items that are used for strength training, stretching and core muscle exercises. Proper instructions or hands-on training is imperative before using an exercise ball in order to avoid injury and get the most out of every stretch and movement that is performed. This necessity for proper instructions is the reason why some gym’s instructors are specially trained in using and performing exercises on stability balls. In fact, stability balls are so common in public and personal gyms around the globe that there are often posters and brochures available to teach the skills for appropriate use.

Despite how quickly the stability ball has become a common piece of equipment in both public and personal gyms and specialized exercise studios, many people choose to purchase their own exercise ball and reserve it for personal use. There are many benefits to owning your own exercise ball, including hygiene and availability. Plus, stability balls are relatively inexpensive and easy to find at your local sporting goods store.

Stability balls are mainly used for performing exercises that strengthen core muscles; however, they are many people who have found them useful in developing and increasing balance. In fact the exercise ball is so effective in increasing balance that they are also frequently used in the world of rehabilitation and physical therapy.

Rehabilitation, physical therapy, strength training and increasing balance are not the only uses for stability balls. In different countries throughout Europe, stability balls have been used in schools as chairs. Many benefits have been reported to using stability balls as chairs, including improved focus, better organization and improved posture.

Regardless of how a stability ball is used, it is important to find a high quality and durable ball; beware of cheap imitations. Cheap exercise balls made pop or break after only a few uses. The best stability balls are made from a durable and extra thick rubber material and come in a variety of colors.

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Discussion Comments

By mrwormy — On Jun 20, 2014

My martial arts instructor decided to add a stability ball workout to our warm-up exercises, so I had to go buy my own stability ball at a sporting goods store. I didn't think it would really support all of my weight at first, but the clerk said I bought the best stability ball they offered. It had reinforced ribbing all around it. All three of my children sat on it at the same time.

We mostly do stability ball crunches in class, but the sensei showed me some other stability ball exercises I could do at home. I take a lot of hits to my midsection during sparring matches, so building up a strong core is very important while doing martial arts.

By Cageybird — On Jun 19, 2014

My office actually encouraged us to swap out our usual chairs for stability balls. I tried it for a few days, but it just wasn't going to work out. I couldn't concentrate on my typing while trying to maintain my balance on that thing. A few people liked the idea, but they mostly did phone work and didn't need to do much data entry like I did.

I have to say I felt a little better after a few days of sitting on that stability ball chair, so I did take it home for a private stability ball workout. I like it much better as a piece of exercise equipment.

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