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Balance boards can off a variety of benefits but you may want other options. What are some equipment alternatives with similar benefits?
As the name implies, balance boards are pieces of balance exercise equipment. The different types come in different shapes and sizes. In essence, they are boards where you need to use your balance to stay upright.
Some of the main benefits of balance boards include that they can help you improve balance, improve coordination, and strengthen your ankles and wrists.
Whether you don’t enjoy using balance boards, you currently find them a bit too hard, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these balance board substitutes can offer you similar benefits.
1. Bosu Ball
The first balance board alternative is a Bosu Ball. You can describe the Bosu Ball as the top of a rubber ball attached to a flat surface.
Similar to balance boards, Bosu Balls can be used in exercises that improve your balance and coordination and strengthen your ankles or wrists.
One benefit of Bosu Balls over the different types of balance boards is that they have two different difficulty settings built-in. Balance training beginners can start with exercises where the flat part of the Bosu Ball is on the ground.
For example, Bosu Ball lunges or simply standing on the Bosu Ball with one or two legs and possibly moving your ankles.
Once you get up to a certain balance skill level you can start doing Bosu Ball exercises where the round part is on the ground instead. These exercises will be more challenging for your balance and slightly easier on your ankles.
Some exercise examples include Bosu Ball squats, mountain climbers, pushups, standing on one leg, etc.
A potential downside of Bosu Balls is that they are a relatively pricey alternative. If this is an issue, the Bosu Ball is a brand name. Off-brand alternatives may suit your needs too at a more budget-friendly price.
2. Balance pad
A balance pad is a thick piece of foam that sinks when you put the weight of your body on it. To stay balanced on it you have to distribute your weight evenly.
You can combine this balance aspect with a wide variety of other movements. Some balance pad exercises include squats, planks, pushups, etc. on the balance pad or simply standing on it on one or two legs.
Another area where balance pads stand out is ankle recovery and strengthening.
The main thing to keep in mind with balance pads is that they are a lot easier than balance boards. This can be a benefit for balance training beginners or individuals like seniors to build up and preserve this skill.
On the other hand, if you are more experienced when it comes to this type of training, balance pads are likely too easy to see a lot of progress.
When it comes to prices, balance pads tend to be similar to balance boards but individual brands will vary.
3. Balance disc
Balance discs are plastic inflatable discs that are typically sized to put one foot on them. Because of the air in them, the surface becomes uneven if you don’t distribute your weight well. In turn, this can train your balance and strengthen your ankles.
The options you have when it comes to balance disc exercises are very similar to balance boards. Some of the balance exercises include just standing on two balance discs, standing on one leg, and combining these two with arm movements.
Additionally, you can use balance discs for more standard exercises to combine other fitness components with some balance training. Some of these include squats, planks, mountain climbers, etc.
Lastly, you can also use balance discs for specific ankle exercises to recover and/or strengthen this body part.
You can see balance disks as an easier option than balance boards and a slightly harder option than balance pads.
All of these things combined can make balance discs a good balance board alternative if these things align with your fitness goals and personal situation.
One benefit of balance discs is that they tend to be even cheaper than balance boards.
A downside that comes with this is that balance discs typically don’t last as long as balance boards. If there is a hole in your balance disc you either need to fix it or get another.
4. Exercise ball
An exercise ball, also known as a stability, swiss, or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball. The material used is similar to the top part of a Bosu Ball but in a complete ball.
This piece of fitness equipment is typically used for upper body balance and coordination training and a few muscle strengthening exercises.
One small study looked at the impact of 12 weeks of exercises with a Bosu Ball and exercise ball twice a week compared to doing nothing on 44 elderly individuals.
They concluded that these exercise ball exercises and Bosu Ball exercises can lead to an improvement in balance and decreased risk of falling (1).
The stability ball is a great piece of workout equipment to train balance and coordination, especially in plank position exercises with your feet on the ball. Using it in certain core exercises also increases their effectiveness.
On top of these benefits, a stability ball is relatively budget-friendly.
A potential downside of exercise balls as a balance board alternative is that they focus on training balance in a different, more horizontal, position.
As the mentioned study implies, this can definitely still lead to balance improvements. However, contrary to balance boards, generally less in a way that you experience in your daily life and popular sports
5. Agility ladder
This next balance board alternative is an option with more of a focus on cardiovascular health and coordination and slightly less focus on balance training.
While balance boards do burn a few calories, this means the focus of the agility ladder is different from balance boards. How much will depend on your choice of agility ladder exercises.
An agility ladder is a rope with plastic ladder rungs that are horizontal to each other. To use it you put this agility ladder on the ground.
After that, you can jog/run over it facing forward, backward, or sideways. You can also do specific step sequences.
Something more unique in the agility ladder compared to the other balance board alternatives on this list is that you are training your balance in a dynamic, moving way, instead of more static, staying in on spot.
This can be helpful for training your balance in a way that you will actually use it in your daily life or sports. On top of that, the agility ladder requires a relatively low investment,. Even lower than most balance boards.
A potential downside of agility ladders is that you don’t get the same static balance training as balance boards. This can be good or bad depending on why you want to substitute the balance board for something else.