Curious about the difference between exercise mats and yoga mats? We’ve done the research for you so you’ll understand the key differences here.
Just remember that all things you’ll find in sports stores have different purposes so it’s great to ask someone to help you in the right direction. This way you’ll be more confident while working out, whether that is gaining strength or flexibility.
Exercise Mat vs Yoga Mat: Simply the same thing?
Here are the difference between an exercise mat and a yoga mat:
Exercise mats are always thicker than yoga mats while yoga mats are thinner so the individual can feel the ground beneath them and maintain balance within yoga poses. Exercise mats can be either firm (as is the case for gym mats) or very soft for bodyweight exercises where the user may get on the floor either purposely or accidentally. Essentially, yoga mats are less about cushioning and exercise mats aren’t used for yoga.
In terms of thickness, an exercise mat can be between 5mm and 70mm thick depending on the activity being used, with many within the 20mm to 40mm range. Yoga mats on the other hand range between a very thin 1mm while 4mm is considered very thick and heavy, but great for some styles of yoga. New students often get caught out accidentally bringing an exercise mat into their 1st yoga class as they are unaware of the differences.
If you’re new to yoga, consider a yoga that is 3mm. It’s thick enough to still feel the floor while providing some cushioning. For many yogis, this is a mat of choice as they are also thin to roll up and generally aren’t that heavy to carry around.
Fortunately, you can still use an exercise mat for Yin Yoga as the poses don’t require balance and the extra padding will be helpful for the length that each posture is held for. The other popular styles such as Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Bikram will require a proper yoga mat.
Lastly, lengths can really vary between exercise mats greatly while yoga mat lengths do generally stay consistent.
Exercise mats are often called gym mats in other parts of the world and are designed for general fitness. That can be boxing, wrestling, sit-ups and many other bodyweight-based activities. The main use of these mats is to provide support and reduce injuries in such exercises.
Exercise mats are made from different materials. Some are toxic as they are made from PVC which, when mixed with body sweat, can have negative consequences. We recommend you look for the more expensive mats with eco-friendly materials.
Yoga mats are designed exclusively for yoga and it’s rare to see people using these for other exercises, except for say pilates. By being significantly thinner than exercise mats, you can really grip the flooring while balancing and staying focused on maximizing your stretch.
Yoga mats are also made from different materials. Given the holistic audience who practice yoga, manufacturers aim to use eco-friendly materials in most cases including jute and rubber instead of PVC, yet the cheaper mats are still made with PVC.
Yes, we just used a pun right there! 😜 Both types of mats are found in all sports stores both online and offline. If this is your first time choosing either mat, we recommend going into a real store to feel the differences.
Avoid buying anything that’s very cheap as the materials used are often sub-par. If you’re taking your journey seriously, the invest into a great quality mat that will last for years and cause less strain on our precious environment.