The Best Exercise Mats For All Manner Of Workout — From Yoga To Crunches
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Exercise mats are a helpful workout accessory, providing cushioning and support for your body, and even protection for the floor beneath you. The best exercise mats are designed to make your workout comfortable and can be used for yoga, stretching, floor-based exercises, or really anything in between.
With so many different exercise mats available, it’s a good idea to narrow down your options based on your needs. And the first things to consider are how thick and large it is:
Thickness: To decide on a mat thickness, think about the types of exercises that you will be doing. A standard yoga mat is usually the thinnest exercise mat, and is typically about 0.125 of an inch thick (or approximately three millimeters). General fitness mats are thicker and usually at least half an inch, and are great for floor-based exercises like sit-ups. For those looking for extra comfort, you can find foam mats which are an inch or more thick.
Size: If you plan on taking your mat to the gym or with you when you travel, a more compact mat that is easy to fold or roll up might be your best pick. However, if you plan on keeping the mat in your home gym, a large mat that covers more space might be a desirable option. There are even mats that act like puzzle pieces so you can customize the size depending on your needs.
Once you’ve decided the thickness and size that works best for you, consider the added perks some exercise mats come with like handles for easy carrying or a non-skid texture to help with slipping. You’ll also definitely want a mat that is moisture-resistant for easy cleaning, and you should consider if a waterproof mat would be a nice perk for you.
To help you out in your search, I scoured Amazon to find five of the top-rated exercise mats.
Thickness: 0.5 inch
Size: 71 inches by 24 inches
If you do a variety of exercises, but only want one exercise mat, this affordable all-purpose mat from BalanceFrom is a great pick. At 0.5 inches thick, this premium mat will comfortably cushion your body while you do sit-ups, meditate, or stretch, but it is still thin enough to be used for yoga or Pilates. Both sides of the mat feature a non-slip surface, so you don’t have to worry about you or the mat sliding around with use.
When you’re done with your workout, simply roll up the mat and use the included strap to easily transport or store it. The mat is moisture-resistant, so it’s easy to clean. Choose from seven different color options, and if you’re not pleased with the mat, it comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and a two-year warranty. But with more than 30,000 reviews and a 4.4-star rating on Amazon, plenty of fans love it.
What Amazon reviewers are saying: “I have hardwood floors, and my previous mat hurt my back. This mat makes yoga easier on my body when I am coming down from an upward bow pose. It’s easy to hold balance poses and pleasant when I do yin yoga to lay there after meditating.”
Thickness: 0.24 inch
Size: 68 inches by 24 inches
Amazon reviewers agree that this yoga mat from Gaiam is not only beautiful, but also super functional. Designed with yoga in mind, this lightweight mat has a textured, non-slip surface that offers good traction and grip. This mat is slightly thicker than many other yoga mats on the market, which many reviewers enjoy for the added cushioning under their hands. However, it’s a few inches shorter and narrower than the all-purpose pick.
The mat is easy to roll up and transport. However, you’ll have to get a carrying strap or case separately. This mat comes in a wide range of gorgeous designs and colors, so you can pick one that matches your personal style. Amazon reviewers say that this water-resistant mat is easy to clean; just use water and a little bit of soap.
What Amazon reviewers are saying: “The mat is very comfortable for crunches as well as yoga. The thickness of the mat is perfect and does not slip around on the floor[…] The product is well worth the purchase price. It is a quality mat.”
Thickness: 2 inches
Size: 72 inches by 24 inches
Comfort is everything when it comes to this folding mat from Sunny Health & Fitness; with 2-inch foam, you won’t feel the floor beneath you while doing stretching and floor exercises on this mat. It features a tri-fold design that makes storage easy. The two carrying handles allow for easy transport into a corner. However, it can’t be rolled up small, and at about 3 pounds, it’s not the most portable option. The removable cover is easy to wipe down, and the resilient foam will keep its shape for a long time. If you want a wider mat, it’s also available in a 72-inch by 36-inch format.
What Amazon reviewers are saying: “This foam-core mat was exactly what I was looking for. It is light-weight and folds away easily for storage. I needed a mat I could use for jogging-in-place or skipping rope in my home exercise room. My space has tile floors, so a simple carpet on top was not sufficient. This mat proved to be a good solution, priced much less than the professional-grade gym mats, but having a couple of inches of foam, making it comparable in function.”
Thickness: 0.38 inch (also available in 0.5 inch and 0.75 inch)
Size: 24 inches by 24 inches (per interlocking tile)
Transform almost any hard surface into a padded spot for your workouts with these interlocking tiles from We Sell Mats. Made from a nontoxic water-resistant EVA foam, these 0.38-inch thick mats will bring comfort to your exercise routine, and they come in a wide range of colors to match your room. The interlocking tiles are 24 by 24 inches each and can cover even the largest of spaces, but because of the tile design, you have flexibility to suit your room’s dimensions and even work around awkward corners. Assembly is super easy — the pieces connect like a big puzzle. And cleanup? It’s even easier. Simply wipe the mat clean with soap and water, and let it air dry. However, be aware that while the foam pads are water-resistant, water might drip through the connection cracks so it might be best to wipe down one tile at a time. These are also available in 0.5-inch and 0.75-inch thicknesses.
What Amazon reviewers are saying: “This is a GREAT product. Its thick enough where I can be on my old knees or barefoot with no pain. The seams fit together well and I have had no problem with the tiles moving or coming apart or sticking up when I stretch and exercise. Its a solid mat once you put it together. It is also really easy to clean.”
Thickness: 0.06 inch
Size: 68 inches by 24 inches
Don’t let the slightly higher price tag of this travel exercise mat from Manduka turn you away — it’s worth every cent. This full-size yoga mat only weighs about 2 pounds and folds down to a very small package. While the mat is very thin (which is what allows it to be so compact), what you lose in extra cushioning, you gain in superior grip due to the durable rubber material. It works well on hard surfaces as well as the carpeted floors that you find in most hotel rooms. It’s water-resistant, easy-to-clean, and contains no harmful dyes.
What Amazon reviewers are saying: “The mat is extremely lightweight, easy to clean, easy to fold up into nothing and great quality. I like that it is thin but has a lot of grip to it! I would highly recommend this for anyone that travels often but doesn’t want to sacrifice workout days when on the road or to resort to using a towel for your workout.”
How thick should an exercise mat be?
For most people, an exercise mat around 0.5 inches thick will be the best. If you are injury prone or have sensitive joints, you might want to opt for a thicker exercise mat up to 1 inch in height. Consider your activity, as well. For lower-impact activities like certain yoga classes, you may not need as much cushioning.
Are thicker or thinner yoga mats better?
Depending on your individual yoga practice or goals, certain mats may work better for you. Standard yoga mats are around 1/8 inches in height (a little over 3 millimeters). Thinner yoga mats (around 1/16 inches in height) will be better for those trying to practice balance work. For more intense floor work, core exercises, or inverted poses you might want to get a thicker yoga mat.
Is there a difference between a yoga mat and an exercise mat?
While exercise mats and yoga mats both technically provide the same benefits (cushioning you between the floor and allowing you to grip a secure surface), they do differ slightly. Exercise mats for high-impact activities or strength work tend to be thicker, whereas yoga mats will often be slightly thinner. Look for gripped surfaces and durable materials in order to get the most out of your mat, regardless of what activity you do.
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