Exercise balls, also known as fitness balls, stability balls, Swiss balls and yoga or Pilates balls, are designed to take a lot of punishment. But they’re not without their limits and, like any other plastic sphere inflated under pressure, when pushed past those limits an exercise ball can burst. If you exercise wisely and follow a few simple precautions, you never need to experience the sudden letdown of an exercise ball exploding beneath you.
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Most exercise balls are labeled with a user weight limit, either printed on the product packaging or on the ball itself, near the air valve. This is the maximum amount of weight your exercise ball can support. Don’t forget to factor in not just your own body weight but also the weight of any other equipment you’re using on the ball.
The average exercise ball is designed to support your static weight. Most exercise balls aren’t designed for the dynamic load of repeated bouncing, whether for cardio or just as a way to play. The few exercise balls that are intended for cardio use will be clearly marked as such, and labeled with a dynamic weight limit. Limit any bouncing activities to this type of ball, and you’ll greatly lessen the chance of a sudden blowout.
Some exercise balls are labeled as burst-proof. This doesn’t mean that they can't be punctured, but that if punctured the ball will deflate slowly instead of bursting. This gives you the chance to dismount the ball instead of being dropped unceremoniously to the floor, potentially landing with a barbell or dumbbells on top of you.
A burst-proof exercise ball might have more than one designated weight limit. If so, the “burst-proof” weight limit is the maximum weight it can hold and still be guaranteed to deflate slowly. Its overall weight limit might be higher than the burst-proof limit, but if you exceed the burst-proof limit and roll the ball over a thumbtack by mistake, you might still find yourself being dumped to the floor.
Even the sturdiest non-burst exercise ball will burst, or at least deflate, if punctured. Increase your exercise ball’s life by keeping it away from any objects, sharp or otherwise, that might damage the surface. Inspect it before every use and replace it if you notice any scratches.
Over-inflating your exercise ball increases the pressure on the ball’s surface, which in turn ups its chance of bursting. A properly inflated exercise ball should compress about 6 inches beneath your weight; you can check for proper inflation every time you use the ball since you have to sit on it for most exercises, and re-inflate the ball only as necessary.