standing desk vs exercise ball

Prolonged sitting in an office chair for hours on end can lead to many health issues within the body. As a result, standing desks and exercise balls cruise into prominence, allowing many users to lower their health risks and quickly increase their physical activity. 

Whether you’re using a desk to complete work, study for exams, or even play games, you’ll want to keep in mind both the standing desk and the exercise chair. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into this standing desk vs exercise ball battle to discover which product is the better option.

an exercise ball

Standing Desks Vs Exercise Balls: What’s the Difference?

So, what’s the difference between a standing desk and an exercise ball? While the two products have a plethora of distinctions, one doesn’t necessarily have to be better than the other. Let’s look at what makes both a standing desk and an exercise ball appealing for workers with desk-bound occupations.

Standing Desks

The standing desk or stand-up desk first made a name for itself in the nineteenth century as an item only acquired by the rich. The desk served as a new way to get your work done without causing long-term effects to your health. The standing desk’s function is pretty self-explanatory within its name, allowing you to stand while you complete tasks in your workspace. 

Exercise Balls

The exercise ball first served a purpose for practicing yoga, increasing flexibility, strengthening the core, and enhancing balance. As time went by, the exercise ball has made its way into the office space as an innovative alternative to the typical desk chair and well-known standing desk. 

Is It Healthier To Work at a Standing Desk?

For decades, people have debated whether or not the standing desk is better and healthier than the traditional desk. The argument leads many to believe that purchasing a desk chair with more cushion and support would make more sense. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits the standing desk claims to offer:

Standing up burns more calories than sitting down, lowering your chances of weight gain.

  • It helps you achieve good posture.

  • Offers more pain relief in your back and neck.

  • Enhances your focus.

  • Adjusts the positioning of your wrist while typing or writing.

As you can expect, there are some caveats people note about the standing desk as well:

  • It could increase pain in your legs and feet.

  • Puts unnecessary amounts of pressure on your hips and knees.

  • Causes muscle fatigue.

  • Several hours of standing in one place can lead to sluggishness and a declined psychological state. 

Is an Exercise Ball Better Than a Desk Chair?

With the rise in fame of the exercise ball, is it truly the better option? There are several reasons why the desk chair progressively appears less and less in the traditional office space. Exercise balls display a variety of declarations that make them more appealing in your office space. Take a look at these benefits that make exercise balls worth considering:

  • Prevents you from suffering from poor posture.

  • The instability of the traditional exercise ball causes you to burn more active calories.

  • Activates your trunk muscles.

  • Increases core strength.

  • Leads to an overall decrease in physical discomfort. 

The traditional exercise or stability ball holds quite a bit of instability which can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. When you’re constantly putting energy into making sure you don’t roll over or lose your balance, it may slow down your workflow.

Using an exercise ball at your desk could also require you to have an office space relatively low to the ground, even with the larger exercise balls. 

Essentially, exercise balls have many benefits that make them a healthier choice over the basic desk chair. The ball could also work as an exercise tool during impromptu workout sessions within your home. Also check out our article on whether runners should use standing desks if you're interested in ways of getting more exercise into your work day.

Are Exercise Balls Good for Your Back?

Exercise balls are known to improve poor posture and increase your core strength. How beneficial or risky is an exercise ball on your back? 

Given the innumerable uses that come with owning an exercise ball, you can absolutely use the product to stretch out your back and promote pain relief. If you sit on the ball in a particular manner, it could further enhance your relaxation. 

Simply sitting upright on an exercise ball, unfortunately, may not be the best thing for your back. Sustained exercise for several hours leads to muscle fatigue. If you’re planning to sit on an exercise ball at your desk with nothing behind you, then you have zero support for your back. 

You may experience less back pain for a short period, but continuously sitting on an exercise ball as your desk chair’s replacement is not a great long-term solution.

Is It Good To Sit on an Exercise Ball at Work?

exercise balls use in an office

Exercise balls can be good to sit on at work for a short time. Using an exercise ball for maybe an hour while you work allows you to burn more calories while completing your tasks. If you think you’ll be having a shortened workday, then the exercise ball isn’t a bad idea. 

If you plan to work a long shift, whether at a formal office or in your home, you would be better off using a desk chair. Sitting on an exercise ball for extended periods while you do your work can be dangerous for several reasons. 

Exercise balls are typically only meant for light workout sessions. Your core muscles may benefit from lightly bouncing on a stability ball, but it’s challenging to maintain a normal seated position. If you’re constantly sitting on an exercise ball while you work, you’re putting extra pressure for which the ball may not be built. 

The most significant danger of sitting on an exercise ball while you work is the potential for it to burst from right under you. Continuous pressure placed on any yoga ball of any size can cause it to pop quicker. 

If your exercise ball bursts while you’re sitting on it, there are so many health risks that follow even a minor slip. It’s also highly crucial to make sure you’re not over-inflating your exercise ball before sitting on it. 

How Do You Sit on an Exercise Ball at Your Desk?

The way you sit on an exercise ball while working is exceptionally pivotal. If you really want to sit on an exercise ball at your desk, there are several steps to lessen your chances of hurting yourself. 

First, make sure your knees are situated below your hips while sitting on the ball. Some people prefer to sit with their knees and hips leveled out, but having your hips slightly above your knees while seated increases comfort. 

Make sure you are sitting up straight and that your ball is fully inflated but not over-inflated. You should also try to sit directly on top of the ball or scarcely forward on the yoga ball. Sitting too far back on your exercise ball allows you to slouch more and raises your risks of falling backward in an attempt to maintain balance.

One of the best options that allow you to sit on an exercise ball while maintaining back support is using an exercise ball chair. Exercise ball chairs essentially have an exercise ball built into the seat part of the chair, but there’s still a component attached to the back that you can lean on. 

What Size Exercise Ball Should I Get To Sit on at Work? 

In addition to making sure you sit on your exercise ball properly, you can’t simply pick any size or shape to sit on. You will ultimately want a much larger stability ball to sit on, but your height is the best determiner for the perfect size. 

If you’re not too far above 150cm tall, an exercise ball of 45cm width will be a decent fit. If you stand anywhere in between 150cm and 170cm, a ball that is closer to 55 to 60cm in width. For those who stand above 170cm or are altogether closer to 180, an exercise ball that is at least 65cm in width will be most suitable for you. 75cm balls are the superior option for anyone over 180cm. 

Should I Get a Standing Desk, Exercise Ball, or Both?

Both standing desks and exercise balls serve their purpose in the office. However, it’s not likely that you’ll have the ability to choose both when space is a limitation. Buying both items is also not always necessary, so which product should you choose? 

sit stand desk

A standing desk can be a great addition to an ergonomic workspace, while exercise balls hold a pretty significant number of limitations. Exercise balls also take up quite a bit of space that you may not have.

If you have to choose between the two items, we recommend a standing desk as the best long-term solution for getting some exercise at your desk. Desky's standing desks are a great starting point in your journey to finding the perfect one for your home or office setting.

Interested in more equipment comparisons? See our last post on standing desks vs ergonomic chairs.

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