Shopping for Swiss balls, also called exercise balls, balance balls, yoga balls, or fitness balls, can be tricky because there are many seemingly good options from which to select. Swiss balls are soft, colorful, inflatable exercise balls, typically constructed out of rubber, PVC, or latex, and are available from multiple manufacturers. The good news is many different companies make high-quality Swiss balls with a proper burst rating and adequate diameter for your height. In addition to these primary considerations, however, you should determine what types of exercises you plan to perform, which in turn will influence the type of ball you decide to purchase.
Originally, Swiss balls were used by Swiss physical therapists solely for rehabilitation purposes, but they’re now used in many different types of workout routines to develop core strength and strengthen the abdominal muscles, as well as for strength training, stretching, and weight loss purposes. Thinner balls are best for stretching and light exercises, while thicker balls are a solid choice for weight lifting. Similar to other fitness equipment, proper use can lead to phenomenal results, while improper techniques can cause injury. Thus, it’s important to purchase a book or DVD with your Swiss ball that guides you through the proper workout techniques, or to sign up for a course with a certified personal trainer who can teach you the essentials.
When shopping for a Swiss ball, it’s important to check the burst rating for safety purposes. The burst rating is a measurement of how much weight a Swiss ball can safely hold before it pops like a balloon. If you plan to use your ball for light to moderate exercise, you should look for a ball with a burst rating that’s two to three times your body weight. If you incorporate weight training or heavy exercise into your routine, look for a ball with a burst rating of at least 850 pounds. Regardless of the burst rating, thicker balls are less prone to puncturing and popping.
Swiss balls come in a variety of different sizes, each appropriate for a range of heights. If you’re less than 5-foot 2-inches, a 45 cm ball is the appropriate size. Individuals between 5-foot 3-inches and 5-foot 8-inches, should look for Swiss balls with a diameter of 55 cm. If you’re between 5-foot 9-inches and 6-foot 2-inches, then a 65 cm ball is the recommended size. People over 6-foot 3-inches can look for Swiss balls with a diameter of 75 cm. These recommendations are appropriate for the majority of people incorporating Swiss balls into their exercise routines. If you’re on a special workout regimen, however, you may be advised to purchase a non-traditional size for your height.
When purchasing Swiss balls, quality and safety, rather than price, should your primary concerns. Although high-quality Swiss balls can cost far more than their lower quality counterparts, you don’t want to risk your health to save a few bucks. High quality balls are typically available at specialty sporting goods and fitness stores, while lower quality models are often found at mass discount retailers. Some companies selling Swiss balls online include duraBall, a company that manufactures professional quality exercise balls with high burst ratings, Fitball, selling latex-free Swiss balls, and TheraGear, selling latex-free balls with high burst ratings. Expect to pay around $30 to $110 for a high-quality Swiss ball.