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Tip: How to Size Your Exercise Ball

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Updated March 21, 2009

Man on Fitness Ball

Man on Fitness Ball

Clive Rose/Getty Images

Exercise balls are a fun way to workout. They bring out the kid in us, and they add a core stability challenge to just about any exercise. Here are two quick tips to help you make sure that the size and firmness of your exercise ball will provide an optimal workout.

1) Buy the Right Size Ball

There really aren't any rules about the size of a fitness ball. I have a collection of fitness balls from huge ones down to little ones, but for most exercise purposes, you will want to choose size a ball that is proportional to your height. The rule of thumb is that you want to be able to sit on your ball with your legs at a 90 degree angle or slightly more, but not less.
Use these guidelines when you buy a fitness ball:
  • If you are 4'11" - 5'4", get a ball that is 55cm
  • If you are 5'5" - 5'11", get a ball that is 65cm
  • If you are 6' - 6'7, get a ball that is 75cm

2) Don't Blow an Exercise Ball All the Way Up

Again, no rules. If you want to go spinning about and risk breaking your neck every time you do an exercise, go ahead and blow that ball up until it is as tight and round as it can get. But for most exercise purposes, you want to have a little give on the surface of the ball. When you sit on the exercise ball your body weight should create a little seat. This provides more stability, but more importantly, it allows you to sit evenly on the ball. It is essential to exercise with good alignment.

Read more how to buy and use an exercise ball for fitness and Pilates in my article, Pilates and the Fitness Ball.

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