Swiss ball, stability ball, physio ball, fitness ball and exercise ball are some of the common names for the plastic inflatable ball that has become such a useful fitness tool. The ball was developed in the 1960s in Italy and a Swiss doctor named Susan Klein-Vogelbach was responsible for introducing them into orthopedic medicine and physical therapy in Switzerland. The “swiss ball” was introduced to the American fitness industry in the 1980s and is now found in almost every commercial gym in the US Swiss balls are used by fitness professionals and elite athletes, as well as everyday exercise enthusiasts in home gyms across the country .

Swiss balls have many benefits. Here are a few of the biggest advantages to incorporating a swiss ball into your fitness routines.

  1. Low Cost. Swiss balls are very inexpensive. They can be found online for as little as $ 10.00. Many of the balls will also include an exercise guide or DVD to show some basic stretching or exercises.
  2. Mobility. The balls can be used just about anywhere. They are a necessity for any home exercise routine and take up very little space. Also, with a small hand pump you can deflate the ball for travel and easily inflate the ball when you get to your destination.
  3. Versatility. There are literally hundreds of exercises that you can perform with a swiss ball. Many can be done just using the ball itself. Add a set of dumbbells and the number is endless.
  4. Core activation. The biggest training benefit of using a swiss ball is core activation. Whether you are focusing on the core or not, the instability of ball exercises will force your core to get involved. Incorporating the ball into weight training movements will help to better develop the stabilizing muscles and will improve overall strength.
  5. Stretching. The swiss ball allows the user to more easily move in and out of stretching positions. Training and stretching with the ball can help with improving flexibility and reduce the risk of injury during exercise.

What should you consider when purchasing a swiss ball? The most important factor to consider when purchasing a ball is the size of the ball. The size of the ball should be chosen based on the individual's height. These are the most common sizes:

  • 45 cm (18 in.) – 5 '0 “and under
  • 55 cm (22 in.) – 5 '0 “to 5' 5”
  • 65 cm (26 in.) – 5 '6 “to 6' 1”
  • 75 cm (30 in.) – 6 '2 “to 6' 8”
  • 85 cm (34 in.) – 6 '9 “and taller

A simple way to know if you have the right size is to sit on the ball and if your legs are bent at 90 degrees in the separated position you've got the right size. Also look for burst-resistant balls. While no ball is puncture-proof the burst resistance ball is made of a specially designed vinyl that will slowly deflate when punctured. These balls are also made with a textured surface to make them less slippery. The balls will also show a static weight limit as well as a burst proof weight limit. For larger individuals and those doing intense workout programs make sure that you are purchasing a ball with the proper weight limits.

If you're looking for a way to change up your workout routines or building a home gym, a swiss ball is a great addition. Go get yours today to get fit and stay fit!