Skip to Content

Yoga Mat vs. Exercise Mat: Which Should You Use?

Please share!

If you’re an active person, chances are, you don’t go a few days without exercising or working out. Even when your days are busy, you are able to find a way to spare some time to break a sweat.

Nowadays, you don’t have to go to the gym to get a good workout. With a lot of fitness equipment available in the market, you can create your own home gym or purchase some of the basic tools to stay fit and healthy. One of the must-have things to include if you’re exercising at home is a workout mat.

You need a workout mat to exercise on a hard floor. Aside from providing comfort, it can also assist you in performing many variations of home exercises.

There are many types of workout mats that you can find online or in sporting goods stores. If you ask around for advice, some would say that yoga mats are the best for any type of floor exercise.

Meanwhile, others would say that exercise mats are more versatile. So, which one should you use?

To end this confusion once and for all, we have laid out the differences between a yoga mat and an exercise mat. But first, let’s take look at each mat and its uses as exercise equipment.

woman on a yoga mat meditating - ee220319

What Is a Yoga Mat?

A yoga mat is tailored for yoga practitioners. It cushions users from the hard surface of the floor while providing a non-slippery surface to execute poses on.

This fabricated mat was first made in 1982 by a yoga teacher, Angela Farmer. It was known as a sticky mat and made from rubber carpet underlay.

In 1990, the first commercially-produced yoga mats were sold by Hugger Mugger Yoga Products. To safely perform specific yoga poses, called asanas, you will need this type of mat.

Nowadays, you can find many types of yoga mats in different sizes, shapes, colors, and forms. Most yoga mats are made from materials such as plastic, rubber, hessian, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), hemp, and cork. Some are also made from biodegradable materials.

woman exercising lifting legs using exercise mat - ee220319

What Is an Exercise Mat?

An exercise mat is also known as a fitness or gym mat. It can be used for different styles of workouts on any type of surface.

This type of mat is generally made from foam and covered with leather, vinyl, or plastic lining. An exercise mat offers a lot of support and comfort for many floor exercises including sit-ups, planks, crunches, leg lifts, and Russian twists.

You can find three common types of exercise mats being sold in the market: vinyl exercise mats, EVA exercise mats, and TPE exercise mats.

Vinyl exercise mats are long-lasting and able to withstand repeated excessive pressure on the hard floor surface.

Meanwhile, the ones made from EVA foam are light and budget-friendly. But they aren’t as durable as the vinyl mats. TPE exercise mats are the best exercise mats due to their durability, versatility, and flexibility. Plus, they are made from eco-friendly materials.

man doing yoga on a yoga mat - ee220319

The Difference Between Yoga Mats and Exercise Mats

From a quick glance, you might think that yoga and exercise mats are completely identical and they serve the same purpose. But that’s only a half-truth.

Although these two mats have some similarities, there are a lot of differences that you can find in them. For instance:

  • Yoga mats are slightly thinner than exercise mats. They generally measure between 1.4 to 1 inch. Meanwhile, exercise mats have a thickness between 1 and 3 inches. But exercise mats are much shorter than yoga mats. Nowadays, most yoga mats measure between 6 and 7 feet long. If you have sensitive joints or are trying to recover from bodily pain, a thicker exercise mat can help in cushioning your body.
  • Yoga mats are suitable for low-impact activities. They can cushion your body and joints from the hard floor surfaces. Due to their thin structure, yoga mats offer stability when you’re doing different yoga forms and they won’t feel as squishy as other thick mats. On the other hand, exercise mats are built for high-impact exercises. They offer a high degree of comfort and can cushion your body effectively during bodyweight exercises. You can also find a lot of exercise mats in the gym. Due to its thickness, you can roll and jump safely on exercise mats.
  • Speaking of materials, some yoga mats and exercise mats are made from the same materials such as EVA foams, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), natural or synthetic rubber, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). However, some are also made of different materials. For instance, you can purchase yoga mats made from cork, high-density polyethylene, and a combination of all these things. Meanwhile, some exercise mats are made from jute, cotton hemp, hessian, and a combination of all these materials.
  • Most yoga mats are lighter and easy to be carried or packed into your exercise bag. On the other hand, exercise mats might be a bit thicker. Depending on their thickness and sizes, some are heavier and can’t fit into a small bag. Exercise mats also have large surfaces. So, you might not be able to use it anywhere as you can do with yoga mats.
  • Yoga mats made from soft, thin foam aren’t able to withstand intense cardio workouts. Meanwhile, most exercise mats are covered with a thick vinyl coating. They can easily withstand body weight and heavy load and aren’t easily torn.
  • Most yoga mats are non-slippery. Users won’t face any slipping issues when exercising on this mat. On the other hand, some thicker exercise mats that are made from plastic that might get a little slippery, especially on tiles or wooden floors.
couples exercising using a gym mat - ee220319

Final Verdict

So, to end this debate, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to which mat is better than the other.

Each mat serves its own purpose and comes with its own benefits. If you’re looking for something that cushions your body, protects your joints, and offers a lot of stability to your body, then go with yoga mats.

But if your exercise consists of a high-intensity workout and uses weight such as barbells, kettlebells, or dumbbells, then exercise mats would be your best bet.

You can also use yoga mats for general exercise but there is a limit to what you can actually do. The same thing goes for exercise mats. You can do different types of yoga poses but they won’t feel as good and stable as when you’re stretching on an actual yoga mat. So, get both and enjoy your workouts!


Please share!