Best Balance Ball Chair of 2018 & Buying Guide
Office life isn’t so easy—sure, it’s physically less demanding than manual labor and other jobs, but sitting 8 hours a day or more comes with its fair share of aches, pains, and health hazards. According to recent studies, prolonged sitting at a desk can cause high blood pressure and cholesterol, muscle weakness, back pain, neck strain, colon cancer, and more.
What’s a paper pusher to do? You still need to work at your desk, after all, and frequent exercise breaks aren’t always practical.
Standing desks are a popular alternative, but some don’t want to (or can’t) stand for very long; others find standard office chairs just as uncomfortable. This is why balance ball chairs have become so popular in recent years: they encourage movement and good posture, and allow users to work comfortably without muscle strain.
This buyer’s guide will evaluate some of the most popular balance ball chairs on the market, to help consumers start their search off right. First, though, we’ll answer a few common questions about balance ball chairs and their benefits.
Gaiam Balance Ball Chair
LuxFit Premium Fitness Exercise Ball Chair
Isokinetics Inc. Brand Adjustable Fitness Ball Chair
Sivan Health and Fitness Balance Ball Fit Chair
CanDo Balance Ball Metal Chair
What is active sitting? Are there other ways to achieve it, besides a balance chair?
Active sitting is using a chair or surface that encourages (or necessitates) movement; rocking chairs are one example, as are ergonomic chairs that allow for rocking and swivelling.
If you fidget in your chair (pivoting gently from side to side unconsciously while you work, leaning forward and back in your seat during a phone call, etc.), you are engaged in active sitting.
So, yes, there are multiple ways to sit actively, and not all require specialized equipment.Of course, these motions don’t allow for the same pain relief and posture control that other chairs do.
Balance ball chairs are excellent for this because they let you sit comfortably, but require your abdominals to be engaged, your spine to be straight, and your feet to be placed flat on the ground.
Alternatively, buyers can consider “wobble stools” (stools with rounded tops and/or bases, which require the user to keep their balance with some weight on the ground), as well as saddle stools.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of a balance chair?
Balance chairs, like any product, have their share of pros and cons. Some positive points to consider:
- Encourages better posture and less slouching.
- Discourages crossed legs, one foot pulled up under the buttocks, etc., that misalign the back and hips.
- Bouncing motion is good for fidgety workers, or those who need to burn energy frequently.
- Strengthens core; user must engage abdominals to remain seated.
Of course, there are some drawbacks users should consider, as well:
- Some models come with height adjustment abilities or extenders, but are still not ideal for shorter or taller heights, depending on the design.
- Most will require a lower desk height, or adding a keyboard tray under your existing desk.
- Ball can pick up lint from the floor or your clothes and transfer to other outfits.
- Bare legs will stick to surface in warm/humid weather.
- Does not allow for relaxation when you’re tired or ill; some users keep a regular desk chair on hand to switch between the two as needed.
Who shouldn’t get a balance chair?
This is partially up to what you prefer: experts warn that backless chairs can still cause slouching, particularly if your core is weak and hasn’t yet grown accustomed to constant engaging throughout the day. Consider switching back and forth between a balance chair and a regular one; many people use their balance chair only a portion of the day, such as after lunch when they would otherwise feel sleepy and sluggish.
If you’ve had back or abdominal surgery, an ergonomic chair might be fair more comfortable and prevent unnecessary strain. Additionally, if you have compromised balance or are particularly clumsy, an exercise ball—even with a sturdy base—can pose a significant fall risk.
Finally, buyers should consider their office space. If you share an office or cubicle, you’ll have to consider the needs of your coworkers. Some workplaces don’t allow the use of exercise balls or balance chairs, either because they view them as a liability, or don’t like the look of them and deem them unprofessional.
All that being said, it’s not as though you need a balance chair to get the benefits of active sitting. Posture correction braces, fidget toys, and certain ergonomic chairs can all provide the same motion encouragement and good spinal health (when used in combination), without bouncing on a ball all day.
You can also consider a standing desk that adjusts up or down, so you can use it with your regular chair, or raise it for standing use when you start getting tired or sore.No matter what kind of chair or desk you use, experts still recommend getting up every hour or so and taking a quick walk or stretch, and letting your muscles shake off the fatigue of all-day sitting.
Best Balance Ball Chair Reviews
1. Gaiam Balance Ball Chair Review
Gaiam is popular in the world of all things exercise: they make yoga balls and mats, fitness equipment, exercise videos, and even massage tools to unwind after a good workout—and with their wildly popular balance ball chair, you can combine the yoga studio and office just by sitting at your desk.
While this option’s out for tall people, short and average-sized folks will love the fair price, high-quality construction, and nine vibrant color choices Gaiam offers. We especially love the adjustable seat back, which stabilizes the ball and can be adjusted for more or less support as your core strength improves. The casters are another nice touch; they look smoother, with a tighter glide than ones you might find on other models.
2. LuxFit Premium Fitness Exercise Ball Chair Review
The LuxFit is just a bit bigger than the Gaiam, and can accommodate users of taller heights, as well as short or average ones.
It boasts better mobility thanks to larger-than-standard wheels, and has a sleek black design that can fit into any office.
We recommend the LuxFit to anyone who’s too tall for the Gaiam model, or finds its smaller casters troublesome for moving around their office. Other than that, however, we recommend the Gaiam over the LuxFit; simply put, it offers more colors and an adjustable seat back, as well as a more well-known brand behind it, for almost the same price.
3. Isokinetics Inc. Brand Adjustable Fitness Ball Chair Review
If the ultra-low plastic balance chairs aren’t your style, or if you want more adjustment options for height and comfort, this model from Isokinetics is sure to please. The frame is made of metal and features an open-bottom design and curved backrest bar, for a unique and refined look you just can’t get from other chairs.
The metal is sturdier, as well, and features larger casters to move more easily than smaller wheels allow. The company offers two choices of frames (black or silver flake), and several color options for the balance ball.
We recommend the Isokinetics balance chair to anyone who plans to use it in an office setting; its design is just far more sleek, and the options available for customization are impressive. Best of all, the frame’s legs and backrest are more adjustable, so users can tailor their chair to fit their heights and desks more closely than other brands allow.
4. Sivan Health and Fitness Balance Ball Fit Chair Review
Shoppers looking for more of a just-the-basics balance chair can consider the Sivan Health and Fitness model, which features no backrest and a lower, no-frills design.
It can also be used as a standard piece of exercise equipment, no adjustments needed, and requires more core engagement than models with backrests—a pro or con, depending on your preference.
While it’s cheaper than the other options featured in this buyer’s guide, the Sivan Health and Fitness balance chair might not be everyone’s idea of a bargain: no backrest means you have to keep your core engaged constantly, which would force some people to switch back and forth between this and a standard office chair, if they need a break. That said, the backless design is very handy for effortless transition into a lunch break workout, so we recommend this to telecommuters and self-employed individuals who work from home.
5. CanDo Balance Ball Metal Chair Review
If you want the benefits of a balance chair without the look of one, the CanDo offers a bit of both with a unique design that blends into almost any office.
It has the basic frame design of a normal office chair, complete with armrests, a broader backrest, and casters arranged from the center (instead of on individual legs).
Bad news for those on the short side: this design just can’t cut it for a wide range of heights. That said, the casters are removable and might make this useable for some (although more inconvenient to move around the cubicle). For average to taller heights, though, this is a great option. It offers similar comfort to that of a standard office chair, but eliminates the slouching back pain several hours at a desk tends to cause.
Experts say sitting is quickly becoming a bigger hazard to our health than the food we eat, and with so many office jobs out there, it looks like the majority of us are at risk. Balance chairs provide a comfortable alternative to standard chairs, which help promote subtle activity and better circulation, and can even reduce back pain—but finding the right one for your height (and your office decorum) takes some research.