How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

The Ultimate Guide on How to Inflate an Exercise Ball Properly

You just got your new exercise ball in the mail and can’t wait to get on it. You hastily read the instruction manual and after huffing and puffing on the free hand-held pump that came with it, the results are…less than stellar.

Your exercise ball now looks more like an egg. Or an Easter egg, with all that bright coloring.
It is smaller than you initially thought it would be.

Suddenly, your enthusiasm deflates faster than you can say “puncture-resistant”. What went wrong with your order?

An exercise ball is a safe and fun way to exercise at home and brighten up drab office spaces. These funky-colored balls can strengthen your core and lower back, as well as improve posture, relieve back pains and even help with birthing.

An exercise ball might look like a giant beach ball and you might inflate it in much the same way that you would a beach ball. However, there are certain considerations to be made especially with the thicker material that is used to make an exercise ball.

If you fail to properly inflate your exercise ball, not only will it result in a wonky ball, but it will also affect your posture and your workout if you try to use it.

In this article, we will teach you how to inflate an exercise ball properly so you will not run into these sorts of problems. We will also give you a few tips on making this as easy as possible for you because who says exercise has to be a pain, right?

Certainly not with exercise balls and definitely not with this guide!

Getting to Know the Exercise Ball

At one time or another, you might have walked into a gym and wondered what these colorful balls lying around are for.

Exercise balls are known by many other names such as Swiss balls, birthing balls, balancing balls, fitness balls, yoga balls, and Pilates balls. It’s one of those things you initially pay for but keeps on increasing its benefits as you find more ways to use it.

Originally used by physical therapists and chiropractors in Switzerland - hence the name Swiss ball - these soft, elastic, and colorful balls have come a long way since then with more and more people finding ways to use it beyond physical rehabilitation.

Some of its more popular uses include:

How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

As a chair to improve your posture and balance, as well as strengthen your lower back and relieve back pains

How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

As a piece of exercise equipment to strengthen your core and improve balance

How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

In birthing, it can help a posteriorly positioned baby to rotate as well as help the baby’s head get to the cervix

An exercise ball typically ranges in size from 35 centimeters to as much as 85 centimeters, with most brands offering different models in increments of 10 centimeters. These balls are made of soft elastic and are puncture-resistant. Some of them are even designed to deflate slowly in the event that it does get punctured by particularly sharp objects. This particular feature was meant to avoid possible injuries if you happened to be using the ball the moment it is punctured.

As far as expenses go, exercise balls are relatively cheaper than most other gym equipment and its value is multiplied by the different benefits and uses you get out of it. Unlike most fancy gym equipment, it is also easier to set up and use and it can last a long, long time.

Just keep it away from sharp objects and you and your exercise ball can enjoy many years together strengthening your core and building lower back strength.

Tips for Inflating an Exercise Ball

How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

Inflating an exercise ball basically works the same way as inflating a giant beach ball—you get the air in and seal it all with a pin. However, that is where their similarities end because aside from its size, an exercise ball is also made of a different, thicker material than your typical, run-of-the-mill beach ball.

For this reason alone, there are certain things you must consider in inflating your exercise ball.

1. Inspect the ball before inflating it
How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

Duh. You cannot expect to inflate a ball if it has a gaping hole.

When you first get your exercise ball in its deflated form, carefully check the ball for any glaring signs of damage before you waste your precious energy attempting to inflate it. If you find one—or several—take pictures to document it and send them to the manufacturer or seller. They usually have a return policy for these things, especially if you bought your exercise ball online.

2. Allow the ball to “normalize” at room temperature
How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

Remember that your ball is made out of a thick but soft and elastic kind of plastic that is highly puncture-resistant. Fluctuations in temperatures during shipping could affect how your exercise ball inflates. Colder temperatures could make the material stiffer and difficult to inflate.

Take care of this problem by allowing the ball to “sit” for at least two hours at room temperature. This will help the ball adjust to the temperature of your location and make it easier to inflate.

3. Size, not pressure
How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

Exercise balls are sold by sizes and not by the amount of pressure they hold. This means that the optimum air pressure and elasticity of the ball are achieved by inflating the ball to its right size and not to as much air it can handle.

Some exercise balls come with a tape measure but you can use your own if it doesn’t. Measure the ball’s ideal diameter and mark it on your wall. This gives you an idea as to the height (diameter) of the ball you should inflate it to.

Never inflate an exercise ball to more than its recommended size.

4. Allow the ball to stretch for at least twenty-four hours
How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

Your exercise ball is not a beach ball. It is made of thicker, more durable plastic and you might find that your initial inflation results in a smaller ball. Don’t worry as this does not mean you have a defective exercise ball or they got you the wrong size.

Rather, you should allow the material in your exercise ball to stretch by inflating it to approximately 80 percent of its ideal size and letting it sit for another 24 hours. This time allowance combined with the air pressure inside the ball will allow the material of the ball some time to stretch before it can be fully inflated to its target size.

5. The pump doesn’t matter
How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

Really, the pump you use to inflate your exercise ball does not matter. You can use any kind of pump you have available on hand. Because we are big on tips, though, you might want to steer clear of hand-held pumps as these can be a pain to use.

Some exercise balls come with free hand-held pumps but they can be a bit unwieldy and really difficult to use. If you can find one that fits, you can use an air compressor or electric pump. Electric pumps rule.

How to Inflate an Exercise Ball

Now that you have an idea of how to inflate your exercise ball, we can get right on to it. Make sure you have all the things you need and everything in place then you’re good to go!

1. Things You Will Need
  • Exercise ball
  • Ball plug
  • Adapter
  • Ball pump
2. Steps on Inflating an Exercise Ball
  1. Inspect the exercise ball for signs of damage. If it seems defective, take a picture of the defect for documentation and contact the manufacturers or sellers for their return policy. If everything seems to be in order, proceed to the next step.
  2. Let the ball sit at room temperature for at least two hours. This will make the exercise ball easier to inflate.
  3. While your ball sits, you can take a yardstick or tape measure and make a mark on the wall starting from the floor. Note the maximum height or diameter of the exercise ball. This will be your indicator as to how much you can inflate your exercise ball.
  4. Now that your ball’s temperature has normalized, note these things before you start to inflate your exercise ball.
        •    If you notice a white plug where the hole should be, remove this with a butter knife before you attempt to inflate the ball, taking care that you do not damage the exercise ball itself.
        •    You may also need to use an adapter to fit the nozzle of your ball pump to the hole in your exercise ball.
  5. Using the pointed end of your ball pump, place it into the hole of your exercise ball or the appropriate adapter and inflate the ball up to 80 percent of its full diameter or height.
  6. Plug the ball in with its appropriate ball plug to prevent the air from leaking out.
  7. Let the ball sit for another 24 hours to allow the material to stretch and accommodate more air.
  8. After 24 hours, carefully remove the ball plug and inflate the ball up to its full diameter or height.
  9. Secure your inflated exercise ball with the appropriate ball plug.
  10. Your exercise ball is now ready to use!

If you find this a bit confusing, you can check out this YouTube video from Live Infinitely on how to inflate your exercise ball properly.


An exercise ball is a great addition to your home or gym workout routine. Their bright colors and versatility in strengthening your core and lower back certainly make them popular. That they are also inexpensive is a great plus for them.

However, inflating an exercise ball is not the same as inflating a beach ball or a kiddie pool. Exercise balls are made of a different material that gives them that nice balance between bounce and resistance as well making them virtually puncture-resistant.

Inflating an exercise ball properly is crucial in making your exercise ball functional. Skipping some steps could make inflating your ball a harder task and can even result in misshapen balls or an exercise ball that could seriously affect your posture and your workout.

Knowing how to inflate your exercise ball properly by letting its temperature normalize prior to inflation as well as only inflating it initially to 80 percent of its full diameter will make sure that you not only get a perfectly spherical exercise ball but one that will certainly benefit you as well.

Did you find this article helpful? Are there other tips you can share on how to inflate an exercise ball properly? What are your dos and don’ts for inflating an exercise ball? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this article with your family and friends!

5 (100%) 1 vote

About the Author Mike R.Bowen

I am Mike R.Bowen, founder of Fitness On The Weekend dot Com and my aim is to help busy people find time for fitness. We will give you actionable advice on how you can keep fit and healthy even on those busy days!

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: