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Exercise Mat vs Yoga Mat: Which One is Right for You?

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Whether you are a fitness freak or a die-hard yogi, or a newbie, you need a mat to carry on with your workouts. Not every mat is suitable for all kinds of exercises you do. Different types of workouts require different levels of support, and one should get this right.

With different types of mats available, picking the one designed specifically for the type of activity you are doing can guarantee more satisfaction.

Here is an ultimate guide that will help you give an overview of both exercise and yoga mats. Continue reading to know what mat is ideal for you and how you can make your workouts more comfortable.

Firstly, let us try to learn what they are and also the basic differences between them:

What Is an Exercise Mat?

Exercise mats are the ones commonly used in gyms. Sometimes called gym mats, these are mostly for doing bodyweight exercises and often used by fitness enthusiasts. They have a thickness of about one to three inches and are ideal for floor-based workouts like sit-ups, planks, and others.

The mat’s thickness protects your body by giving you enough cushioning when sitting, lying down, or on your sides. Also, they help in preventing injuries in case of any falls.

Usually made from dense foam and a vinyl cover, these exercise mats are easier to clean. All you need is a damp cloth to wipe them. These mats are specially designed to have a non-slip feature that provides perfect grip to the users when doing workouts like planks, sit-ups, flips, etc. This assures you safety and also a comfortable area for practicing those exercises and other martial arts moves. Also, these are easily foldable for storing them securely.

If you are planning to buy an exercise mat, do not forget to check for its comfortability, thickness, and moisture resistant feature.

What Is Yoga Mat?

Unlike exercise mats, these mats come specially designed for exercises of low impact. Hence, yoga mats tend to be thinner than the other mats available. The less thickness of these mats gives the required amount of cushioning while facilitating traction to the floor. This is essential part for the yoga activity.

Yoga mats come in different thicknesses, materials, and dimensions. The thickness of the mats usually ranges from one eighth of an inch to one fourth of an inch. Some manufacturers today also produce travel yoga mats that have a thickness of 1/16th part of an inch. These mats are lightweight, easily foldable, and this further makes them very portable, just as the name says.

As mentioned above, they are available in different materials like PVC, natural cotton, rubber and jute fibres. You can choose one from the list, depending on your preferences and requirements. Of all these, most yogis prefer mats with PVC material. Moreover, if you are allergic to latex, then you better not choose natural rubber yoga mats.

When buying a yoga mat, consider the stickiness, thickness, and also the texture. Of all the available yoga mats in the market, the PVC mats claim to have the highest stickiness factor. Besides that, they also have a slight texture that feels so soft.

Exercise Mat vs. Yoga Mat

Before we take a deep dive into the topic, let us try to understand the differences between exercise and yoga mat. To help you with the same, here is a table distinguishing the characteristic features of the duo.

Parameters Exercise Mat Yoga Mat
Cushioning and Protection Exercise mats have a cushion-like surface that protects the body from any injuries from slipping. Yoga mats are not well-cushioned but provide only the required amount of cushioning to protect the body.
Thickness Exercise mats tend to be thicker than yoga mats. Yoga mats are comparatively thinner than exercise mats
Material Usually made from a rubber material. Available in PVC or vinyl, rubber, natural cotton, and jute fibre materials.
Restriction Free Movement Allows maximum firmness to the body when doing the workouts. Provides you ease in movements with zero restriction to any kinds of poses you are doing.
Weight Exercise mats are bulky and heavy. Travel yoga mats are lighter than yoga mats.
Durability Exercise mats are very durable than yoga mats. Yoga mats are not that durable as exercise mats and need frequent replacement.
Portability Exercise mats are not travel-friendly. Travel yoga mats are lightweight and easy to carry when travelling.
Comfort The cushion-like surface of the exercise mats provides additional comfort to the users when doing heavyweight exercises or workouts. Yoga mats provide the required amount of cushioning for low-impact exercises.
Cleaning They are easy to clean. They are easy to clean.
Size Exercise mats come in large dimensions, covering a small room. Yoga mats usually come in single-person use dimensions.
Price Exercise mats are a little expensive than yoga mats. Yoga mats are cost-effective.
Ideal For Exercise mats are for bodyweight exercises and floor-based workouts. Yoga mats are ideal for low-impact exercises.

Let us talk discuss each feature in detail and see which mat excels in each category:

Protection

As mentioned earlier, yoga mats provide only the required amount of cushioning when doing any pose. So, we would not call them well-cushioned, and they are suitable for lighter exercises. Unlike exercise mats, they will not absorb shock when you fall. However, they have a sticky-like surface. When your start sweating while doing your asanas, this surface becomes sticky. As a result, your body and feet hold to the mat tightly. The chances are unlikely to slip on the yoga mat.

Exercise mats usually come with a non-slip surface that acts as a protection for the body. Moreover, they have a vinyl coating on the top, eliminating the maximum chances of slipping on the mat and preventing injuries. The mats cling firmly to any surface further, giving excellent grip to the users on them. Even if you fall or slip on the mat by any chance, you will not get injured. The cushion-like surface is capable of absorbing the shock and hence protects you.

Some exercise mats come with thin cushioning. These are not for heavy-weight workouts but only for beginners. Hence, make sure you have complete knowledge of the mat and how it responds to your body before purchasing one. After that, you can start practicing on it.

Thickness of Mats

If we talk about thickness, yoga mats are available in different thicknesses. Since yoga mats are exclusively designed for low-impact exercises, you will not need protection from the ground while making the movements.

On the other hand, when doing the activities like squats, push-ups, or planks, you might need a mat of nice thickness. Else, you might hurt yourself while performing them.

While yoga mats have a standard thickness of 1/8-inch, exercise mats come in half-inch thickness.

Material

Yoga mats are available in a variety of materials like PVC or vinyl, rubber, natural cotton, and jute fibre. Most of them come in the PVC material, and here are the reasons why:

  • The PVC material is lightweight and hence ensures your body has a proper connection with the hard floor while you sit upon it for meditation.
  • The PVC material is very easy to clean.
  • Yoga mats made with PVC materials are perfect to practice yoga outdoors under the sun’s rays.
  • Even after getting exposed to the sun for a longer duration of time, PVC materials do not produce any bad odour.

Owing to these reasons, manufacturers prefer using PVC material for yoga mats.

Coming to the exercise mats, they are generally made of rubber. The primary reason for considering rubber materials is that they offer a soft cushioning experience than PVC material.

In addition to that, the rubber material develops a strong connection with your feet. This enables your feet not to lose support or slip away from the mat when doing flexible tasks.

For people who sweat a lot while doing yoga, it is suggestible to prefer mats made with closed-cell technology. This technology guarantees sweat resistance and further provides a better grip to the users.

Restriction Free Movement

Yoga mats should ensure free movement of the body without any restriction. If you find out that the mat offers restriction, even if it is slight, it would disturb your entire activity.

Before you try to own one, make sure you check if the mats restrict your movements or

facilitate the ease in workouts or postures.

Coming to the exercise mats, they are specially designed to give firmness to your body while doing the workouts. If in any case, you do not find this feature, do not purchase it, as it is of no use to you.

Durability

If we talk about durability, exercise mats are more durable than yoga mats. You will have to change the yoga mats once every few months. They have less thickness and also less resistance to moisture. Hence, they are not as durable as their counterparts. However, if you want your yoga mats to last for more time, choose those made with PVC and coated with vinyl.

Since exercise mats are mostly made of high-quality foam and rubber-like materials, they have more durability than yoga mats. In addition to that, they have high moisture resistance. That means you can use it for more than one year. Here is a simple analysis for you. The more resistance your exercise mat has towards the moisture, the more durable it will be.

However, one should never forget that durability is dependent on another factor, and that is maintenance. If you take good care of your mats, they will for at least six months more than its life.

Portability and Storage

Let us come to the portability. Unlike exercise mats, yoga mats are for traveling. Being very lightweight, they are easy to carry around wherever you go and also easy to store. You can even fold them and put them at the back of your car without any hassle.

Despite being easily foldable and easy to carry around, exercise mats are not very travel-friendly. This is because these mats are lengthier than the yoga mats and become bulky and heavy. However, you can store them in a closet or cupboard after folding them.

Comfort

As learned earlier in this article, yoga mats have less thickness and less cushioning than exercise mats. Yoga mats provide the required amount of cushioning for low-impact exercises. Hence, they do not need much cushioning.

Contrary to the above, the exercise mats have more thickness and a cushion-like surface. This surface of the exercise mats provides additional comfort to the users when doing heavy lifting exercises or workouts. Because of the vinyl-coated surface on the top, these mats are moisture-resistant and do not get soggy after a workout.

Cleaning

Both exercise mats and yoga mats are easy to clean because they are of the same material. Exercise mats contain Styrofoam material. All you need is a wiping cloth and a bucket of warm water to wipe the mat. After cleaning, your mat will become like a brand new one.

Yoga mats also require the same procedure to clean them because even they are of the same material. However, for those with PVC material, it is advisable to add a bit of vinegar to the warm water for cleaning the mat.

Size

Exercise mats are lengthier than yoga mats and come in large dimensions, covering a small room. This is because you need a mat with a larger dimension for doing some exercises. Moreover, you can share your mats with your friends or gym mates.

On the other hand, yoga mats usually come in single-person use dimensions. Since yoga activity does not require any sharing, it is small and for only a single person.

Price

Talking about the price, exercise mats are comparatively expensive than yoga mats. While you may wonder why it is because of their durability. It justifies the price.

Yoga mats are cost-effective. They are available in different brands, and the prices may range from reasonable to high. The ones with a higher price in the market have better quality, though. The mats with anti-tear technology are higher than all.

Exercise Mat vs. Yoga Mat: Which One to Choose?

The key factors that every user ponders upon are maintenance and durability. If we consider these two points, exercise mats are undoubtedly the safest bet. They are not only easy to maintain but also highly durable when compared to their counterparts. Since you cannot carry them from one place to another, there are fewer chances of getting dirty. That means less cleaning and less effort too. The cleaning procedure is also very simple and easy. You can use a damp cloth to clean or wipe off any dirt or sweat on the mats.

Exercise mats are for bodyweight exercises and floor-based workouts.

Yoga mats, on the other hand, are more prone to moisture. Since they are travel-friendly, they have high chances of getting dirty easily. Hence, they require frequent washing and maintenance to ensure they last for a long time.

Yoga mats are ideal for low-impact exercises.

Conclusion

Wrapping up, I hope this article helped you know the difference between a yoga mat and an exercise mat. I believe this even answered your question, what is the best mat to use? Now that you are aware, you should now be able to find one suitable for your needs.

Write to us in the comments section below if you find this article informative. If you have any questions about exercise or yoga mats, please mention them as well. We would love to help you choose the mat that is best suitable for you and your workouts!

If you have any inputs to add, do not hesitate to let us know. We want to hear from you.

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