An exercise ball is a piece of fitness equipment that can be used to move more. In turn, this can help you burn more calories.
There are different ways to use an exercise ball, also known as a stability ball or yoga ball, to burn more calories.
The average person can expect to burn around 83 – 142+ calories per 30 minutes of doing exercise ball exercises. This number will vary from individual to individual due to a variety of factors.
For example, a 125-pound (56 kg) individual will burn around 83 calories while doing exercise ball exercises for 30 minutes.
On the other hand, a 215-pound (97 kg) individual will burn around 142 calories while doing the same exercises for 30 minutes at the same intensity.
Another popular way to use an exercise ball to burn more calories is by using it as a chair. Interestingly enough, most studies about this find small or no differences with sitting still.
However, sitting and fidgeting with your feet can help you burn around 15 – 25 calories more per 30 minutes compared to just sitting still. If you find using an exercise ball helps promote this, this piece of equipment can help you burn more calories.
Biggest influences on calories burned
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like using an exercise ball is hard to predict and measure correctly.
This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game when you are trying to balance these numbers with the calories in food.
Even so, good estimations for the number of calories burned with an exercise ball can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn while using an exercise ball include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to fuel its movements.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Exercise choice: If you’re looking at calories burned per minute of stability exercises, this can vary a lot from exercise to exercise. Something like exercise ball pushups will burn more calories than a regular exercise ball crunch.
- Actively vs passively sitting: When using a stability ball as a sitting surface you can just sit still or bounce around. The second option will require more energy of your body.
Estimations calories burned exercise ball
To calculate calories burned during certain exercises you can use a formula with MET values.
A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is. This number represents how many times more intense the activity is compared to sitting still.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
An estimation for the MET while doing exercise ball exercises is 2.8 (1). The first table below will show the number of calories burned with exercise ball exercises for different weights and time intervals.
After that, you can find a table showing how many calories you can burn while sitting on an exercise ball if it helps you fidget more.
Again keep in mind that these are estimations. This formula doesn’t take into account certain important factors that do influence the number of calories burned with an exercise ball.
Additionally, to put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (2).
Calories burned with exercise ball exercises
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned while doing exercise ball exercises is by looking at how much time you spent doing them.
The exact numbers will of course vary from exercise to exercise but these estimations can help you get a better idea.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||3 calories||41 calories||83 calories||124 calories||165 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||3 calories||51 calories||103 calories||154 calories||205 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||4 calories||61 calories||122 calories||184 calories||245 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||5 calories||71 calories||142 calories||213 calories||284 calories|
Calories burned while sitting on an exercise ball
Another popular way to use exercise balls is as a sitting surface instead of a chair. One of the goals of this is to increase the number of calories you burn.
However, the studies that investigate the difference in this area between regular sitting and sitting on an exercise ball tend to find really small or basically no differences (3).
That being said, something that is known to increase the number of calories you burn is fidgeting (making small movements with body parts).
So if sitting on an exercise ball helps you fidget more, it can help you burn more calories. On the other hand, if you sit relatively still on the exercise ball, it will barely help you burn extra calories (if any).
Below you can see the differences in calories burned between 30 minutes of sitting still (passively sitting on an exercise ball) vs sitting and fidgeting your feet (sitting actively on an exercise ball).
On Exercise Ball
On Exercise Ball
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||38 calories||53 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||48 calories||66 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||57 calories||79 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||66 calories||91 calories|
How to burn more calories with an exercise ball
How many calories you burn with an exercise ball is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per time interval.
The challenge for most people is fitting in activities in their busy schedules. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of using an exercise ball.
If you do have more time, spending more time doing stability ball exercises will generally burn more calories although at some point overtraining may cause the reverse.
A more obvious way to burn more calories with an exercise ball is by choosing more intense exercises where you move your body faster and challenge your muscles more.
The second way to burn more calories while using an exercise ball is by making the weight your body has to move heavier.
You can do this by wearing a weighted vest as long as your body can deal with the extra weight and it doesn’t interfere with your exercises. Another method is building extra muscle mass.
Can you lose weight with an exercise ball?
Exercise balls can help you burn a few extra calories. In combination with good habits in other lifestyle areas, this can then lead to weight loss.
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000 calories). How long it takes to see weight loss results from using an exercise ball will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intensely to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
15 minutes of stability ball exercises a day could help you burn an extra 510 calories in 10 days which is about 0.15 pounds of body fat. 30 days, 1530 calories (= +- 0.44 pounds of body fat), and so on…
Exercise balls are not that good for weight loss but they do help a small amount.
Should you use an exercise ball to burn calories?
Doing exercise ball exercises can be described as a light workout that can burn a few extra calories. That being said, there are plenty of other activities that can help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
Even if you are trying to move more while sitting at a desk, something like a pedal exerciser is generally more effective.
You should likely see the number of calories burned with exercise balls as a nice bonus of your balance and muscle workouts. Once you are done with these, you can turn to other options to really start seeing results.
If calorie burning is your main goal and you regularly use a yoga ball, implementing some exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle can be helpful.
The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including during your exercise ball sessions.
Also keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what movement routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.