What Size Stability Ball Should I Buy?

Woman exercising with fitness ball
The right size stability ball will allow you to sit or work out comfortably. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Stability balls are large, inflatable balls used to strengthen and tone the body, particularly the core muscles of the pelvis, abdomen and back. Stability balls range in size from 30 cm for petite individuals or children to a generous 75 cm for much taller people. In order to use a stability ball safely and effectively, it must be the right size for your body.

Function

Exercisers use a stability ball for a variety of fitness moves, abdominal work, pilates exercises and some yoga poses. You can also use your exercise ball as a desk chair. You can use stability balls can be used in the home, gym, and physical therapist's office to help strengthen muscles and improve tone, according to the American Council on Exercise.

Size

Exercise balls are available in a wide range of sizes, suitable for individuals under 4 feet, 6 inches to individuals who are more than 6 feet, 2 inches tall. Balls are sized in centimeters, and some companies may color code the balls to match the size. General size guidelines are accurate for most people; however, you may find a larger or smaller ball more comfortable if you are near the top or bottom size limit. Typically, individuals less than 4 feet, 6 inches require a 30 cm ball. You should choose a 45 cm ball if you are between 4 feet, 6 inches to 5 feet tall. From 5 feet to 5 feet, 5 inches, select a 55 cm ball. If you are between 5 feet, 6 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches, use a 65 cm ball. If your height exceeds 6 feet, 2 inches tall, opt for a 75 cm ball.

Considerations

Check your seated height to determine the perfect ball size for you. Squat against a wall until your hips are parallel with the floor and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Measure the distance between the floor and your hips and compare to ball measurements. As an alternative, mark the height of the ball and compare your seated measurement, recommends SimpleFitnessSolutions.com. Fully inflated, a 55 cm ball is 22 inches from the floor, and a 65 cm ball is 26 inches from the floor.

Effects

If you are overweight, older or out of shape, you may find it easier to balance on a larger, slightly less-inflated ball, recommends the American Council on Exercise. Exercises are easier on a softer ball, and you may have less difficulty maintaining your balance. A fully inflated fitness ball should be quite firm and require you to fully engage your muscles to stay upright.

Warning

Stability balls provide an opportunity for toning and stretching; however, they do require a substantial amount of balance, and falls are a possibility. Consult with your health care provider before integrating a stability ball into your fitness routine. Start with simple exercises that keep your feet anchored on the floor and the right size ball and move toward more challenging ball routines as your personal fitness improves.

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