Types of Ball Chairs and Exercise Balls

Sitting for long periods of time has often been attributed to health problems later in life. While some opt for a standing desk, there is another solution.

The various types of ball chairs and exercise balls on the market make for great sitting options that are less taxing on your health.

Join us as we examine the various types of these ball chairs and the history behind exercise balls and how they fit into ball chairs.

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The Purpose of Ball Chairs & Exercise Balls

An exercise ball, sometimes referred to as a Swiss Ball, is a sphere constructed with soft elastic. They range in diameter and are filled with air. They can be used in physical therapy, athletic training, and good old exercise.

They are sometimes known by different names, which all refer to the same thing. The best part about balance balls, as opposed to flat surfaces, is the body’s ability to respond to the ball’s changing shape.

By using one of these to maintain balance while you’re sitting, you engage a lot more muscles than you normally would, specifically, the abdominal and back muscles. Ultimately, your body is more engaged than you would when sitting on an office chair.

Many fitness experts recommend sitting on an exercise ball instead of an office chair for your overall health. By incorporating these types of balance balls into a chair design, you can have something suitable to sit on when in the office, while still engaging your muscles and warding off health issues.

​The 7 Types of Ball Chairs & Exercise Balls

While the concept of an exercise ball used to refer to one type, there are several different options available today that suit a variety of purposes.

Let’s take a look at the six types of exercise balls:

​Office Ball Chairs (Office Design)

The ideal type of ball chair for sitting incorporates a standard exercise ball into an office chair with a back and armrests. The ball essentially takes the place of the cushion.

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With five wheels, it can be moved around like any other chair. Depending on the model, some also offer the option for locking wheels so you won’t slide around while you’re sitting on the ball in the center.

​Classic Ball Chairs

A classic ball chair does not have any arms, but it does have a back. It comes in smaller sizes for kids as well, with a ball that is 35 cm in diameter as opposed to the standard 55 cm diameter.

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Without the arms, it may not be ideal for office work, but you can easily sit on it throughout the day to stretch out your spine and legs.

​Ball Stools

These types of chairs don’t have arm rests or back support, but that makes them easier to use as a chair or an exercising tool. These typically come in multiple ball sizes as well to meet your needs and your general size.

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​Stationary Ball Chairs

This type of ball chair has feet that keep it in place while you sit. The ball is encased in a larger cover, so it won’t go anywhere when you sit down. One such example is the Zenergy Ball Chair from Safco.

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​Large Exercise Balls

The large exercise ball is the one most people have seen. It is used in gyms, studios, and chiropractic practices. You can use this as a chair for when you’re trying to squeeze a quick workout into your daily routine.

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They are also known as "stability balls" or "Pilates balls". They are great for adding a balancing aspect to workouts.

The instability of the ball requires you to engage extra muscles to stay upright. It’s not easy to stay still while sitting on one of these, but short bursts will give you the chance to engage muscles you wouldn’t otherwise use while sitting.

​A Brief History of Ball Chairs & Exercise Balls

The original exercise ball was a called a Swiss Ball. It was created by Aquilino Cosani in 1963. He was an Italian plastics manufacturer, and he created and perfected a process for molding large plastic balls that were also puncture-resistant.

They were first referred to by the name "Pezzi balls". The original treatment programs used with these balls were for young infants. Mary Quinton developed these programs. She was a physiotherapist who was working in Switzerland at the time.

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Later on, Dr. Susanne Klein-Vogelbach decided to use the balls for neuro-developmental treatment. She referenced “functional kinetics” as inspiration for her idea. 

She supported ball techniques as a method for treating those with medical issues or orthopedic problems. The original name for exercise balls emerged when Americans began using these same techniques.

Today, they are used in generalized fitness routines for athletes, and in other fitness activities like Yoga or Pilates. Fitness experts today also strongly recommend that people sit on exercise balls instead of office chairs.

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This is based on the theory that the ball constantly engages the abdominal and back muscles to maintain proper posture and balance. There isn’t any scientific evidence to support this, and some argue against this theory. Those who do not agree cite ergonomic considerations and biomechanical reasons. 

Finally, these balls are sometimes used as “birth balls” during labor to aid the descent of the fetal head into the pelvis. It can also be more comfortable for a woman to sit upright on a ball chair during birth.

Thanks to all the additional types of exercise balls, there’s plenty of uses for them in today’s modern world.

Final Thoughts on BAll Chairs and Exercise Balls

The various types of balance and exercise balls available give us plenty of options for how we want to incorporate them into our routine. Using them can help us maintain posture and enhance any kind of workout.

Even office workers or those who work from home can try out chairs designed with balance balls to help them ward off the negative health effects of sitting for long periods of time.

All-in-all, these are a great way to spice up any workout or daily routine

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