Office Chair vs Exercise Ball

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Updated February 5, 2023

If you are shopping around for a new seat, you may be comparing office chairs vs exercise balls. The best office chairs, after all, may be ergonomically designed but they do not train any of your muscles like exercise balls. Keep reading to learn the differences between these two seat types.


  • A desk chair does not increase your core strength, whereas some studies indicate that exercise balls do just that.
  • Exercise balls, otherwise known as stability balls, necessitate a steep learning curve, as it will take weeks of use to get comfortable on the seat.
  • Traditional office chairs are intended for long-term use, whereas exercise balls, otherwise known as a yoga ball, should only be used for short periods of time.

Differences Between Office Chairs and Exercise Balls

The primary difference here is due to the overall design, as exercise balls aren’t exactly chairs at all. Instead, they are balls that you sat on that force you into a correct posture and engage your core muscles. This key difference leads to numerous other factors, such as when you are comparing gaming chairs vs office chairs.

For more great chairs and accessories, check out our Original Balance fit ball office chair/stool review, a memory foam seat cushion, and the best office chairs under $100.

Here are some more primary differences between office chairs and exercise ball chairs.

Insider Tip

Be aware that it will take several weeks to get used to a stability ball, so practice patience before giving up.

Spinal Support

An exercise ball offers no back support whatsoever, as the design is intended to train your core muscles to not even need such spinal support. Traditional ergonomic office chairs, however, are purpose-built to offer support to the various parts of your body, including your spine. This can be said of nearly any ergonomic office chair, even if you are comparing fabric office chairs vs leather office chairs. But remember, figure out which office chair seat height works best for you before buying any chair.

Learning Curve

Anyone can sit in a regular office chair. Just plop down, make the necessary adjustments, and begin working. Using an exercise ball, however, takes some time to get used to. You won’t be getting any spinal support, remember, so it will be up to you to constantly engage your core muscles so you stay properly balanced. It will take an average person several weeks to build up these core muscles to the point where using an exercise ball will stop being such a chore and start to be relatively relaxing.

STAT: Sitting on an exercise ball resulted in 33% more trunk motion and in 66% more variation in lumbar EMG compared to a regular office chair. (source)

Long-Term Use

Exercise balls should be used as a supplement to a regular ergonomic chair, as they are not exactly intended for long-term use. Think of them as something to try out while performing a short-term work-related task. Office chairs, on the other hand, are built to be sat upon throughout your entire day, so long as they are properly adjusted to match your unique bodily needs. Experts tend to agree that you should only use an exercise ball for around ten minutes at a time.


How are standing desks and exercise balls different?

Standing desks intend users to stand, while stability balls intend users to sit upon the ball and engage their core muscles to encourage proper posture.

So, is it healthier to sit on an exercise ball all day?

Not necessary. Balance balls should be used in short intervals.

How about a chair with a ball for a seat?

Some stability balls come with a seat attached, offering a modicum of additional support. This is a good alternative to a traditional exercise ball, though you should still talk to your physical therapist about using it all day to avoid spinal shrinkage.

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