Yoga Mat vs Exercise Mat [Are They the Same? What Are the Differences?]

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You should know that in order to stay in good shape and be healthy it is recommended to exercise every day for at least thirty minutes. However whatever sport you do you need to have a proper equipment to be able to do it effectively.

If you’re a runner, you need good running shoes. If you want to build big muscles, you need to use weights. If you want to practice football you need to have a ball. And if you want to practice yoga or Pilates, you need to have a mat.

yoga accessories

Now, should you buy a yoga mat or an exercise mat?

Let’s have a quick look at the differences between these two types of mats to know which one is more appropriate for what you want to do.

Both mats are usually made from antimicrobial materials and are designed to protect the body during physical activity in order to prevent injuries.

Yoga Mat

1. Yoga mats are usually thinner than exercise mats. Standard thickness is between 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch. However there are mats that are even thinner: 1/16 of an inch. They are good for traveling. 

Yoga mats can’t be as thick as exercise mats because they need to provide a good stability for a practitioner during yoga poses. There needs to be a connection between a yogi’s body and the floor’s surface.    

2. They are smaller than exercise mats. They’re usually long and narrow, e.g. 24 inches wide and 68 to 72 inches long. 

3. They provide less cushioning for your joints compared to exercise mats. You can always purchase a thicker yoga mat, e.g. 12mm thick, but then it may be too “squishy” for certain poses.   

4. Yoga mats are designed for low impact exercises such as floor-based exercises e.g. Pilates, bodyweight workouts. 

5. They have a “grippier” surface than exercise mats which prevents from slipping during yoga sessions. 

Exercise Mat

1. They are thicker than yoga mats (1-3 inches thick). It’s because they are designed for high intensity workouts such as HIIT or weight training so they have to provide a thorough cushioning for joints, knees, wrists. They have to lessen the impact of falls. If you’re going to practice with barbells & dumbbells then you need a firmer mat. 

2. They are heavier and bigger in size because the exercises performed on them usually require a larger surface area. 

3. They are made of dense foam that protects sensitive joints & also knees, wrists, elbows, back but also the floor. Apart from that they are vinyl covered which makes it easy to clean them with just a damp cloth. 

As you can see a yoga mat and an exercise mat are not the same and you should use one or the other depending on your goals. In short each mat should provide a floor protection, joint protection and slip protection.

If you’re wondering whether you can use an exercise mat for yoga then the answer is yes. Just make sure it’s not too thick as you may find it hard to remain balanced during certain poses.

However if you’re going to practice yoga in a studio along with other yogis then you should consider getting a professional yoga mat. Why? Because yoga mats take up less space than exercise mats and if there are many practitioners in a room then it’s better if your mat is neither too wide nor too long.

Also, yoga mats are usually grippier than exercise mats and of course you need a mat with a good grip especially if you practice hot yoga.

cork yoga mats

In conclusion, for high-impact workouts for which you need a lot of space use an exercise mat, and for low-impact exercises consisting mainly of bodyweight exercises, use a yoga mat.

How about purchasing both a yoga mat and an exercise mat? These mats are not so expensive so it would be worth it to have both of them at hand whenever you need one or the other.

It’s a really good idea to do both bodyweight exercises as well as exercises with free weights. This will help you build a well-rounded physique fast.

You may also be interested in:

1. What Size Yoga Mat Do You Need?

2. Yoga Mats For Sweaty Hands & Feet

3. Pros and Cons of Yoga

4. How Often Should You Do Yoga to See Results?

5. Is Yoga Enough to Stay Fit?

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