exercise mat

Exercise Mats: Test & Reviews

Author: Manuel Heitmann

Coach & Fitness Expert

Welcome to our great exercise mat review. Here we present you all of the exercise mats that we have tested. We have compiled detailed background information for you.

We want to make the purchase decision easier for you and help you find the best exercise mat for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will find important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a exercise mat.

An exercise mat is almost indispensable for various gymnastics and sports. In order to be able to present evaluations of material, dimensions, mat type and other details for our best list, our team has viewed various tests, comparisons and customer reviews on the Internet.

Questions to Consider Before Buying A Exercise Mats

What is an exercise Mat?

A gymnastics or sports mat is an underlay that absorbs any kind of pressure and also cushions shocks and jumps. Conventional sports mats are used, among other things, for apparatus gymnastics and floor exercises. Depending on their thickness and texture, some of them are also suitable for martial arts, such as judo or karate. The soft mat reduces the risk of injury for the athletes, because not only the joints are spared.

There are four different main types of sports mats, which are mainly categorized according to their main use. The suitability depends on the degree of softness or damping and on the dimensional stability, which is also referred to as resilience. We have carefully checked these two characteristics in our exercise mat test. The high-quality comparison test winners of the exercise mats and sports mats convince with their ability to take on the original, smooth shape again after the athletes have left the mat.

The exercise mat can be used in many areas of application and usually has excellent resilience. Compared to other sports mats, the damping behavior is rather low. It should therefore only be used for sports that do not involve violent jumps. As an aid for training at home, it is just as suitable as a base for exercise therapy. The padding of the exercise mat cushions the entire body so that the exercises can be performed without additional pain. The soft properties show their advantages especially when lying down, but also when exercising while kneeling, in a propped up position or while standing, the exercisers benefit from the cushioning. Different models are available for the different types of training, from particularly thickly padded exercise mats to thin models, from non-slip to water-repellent designs.

How does an exercise Mat work?

How an exercise mat works can best be described with an example. During an exercise lying down, not only the feet, buttocks and back touch the floor, but also the elbows. If you straighten yourself up repeatedly, your tailbone or back can hurt over time when you lie back. Your elbows can also feel the impact on the ground. The exercise mat therefore serves as a soft pad and protects against bumps and excessive friction. This soft surface also plays an important role in training exercises that are carried out on your knees and with your hands propped up. The exercise mat is not only a useful piece of sports equipment on hard, smooth floors, but also when you train outside. Here the mat protects against small stones that are present on a supposedly smooth and clean surface, as well as against dirt. With the fitness mat, training can easily take place on the terrace, which is an interesting argument, especially for outdoor fans.

Advantages & areas of application

By using the exercise mat, hobby athletes automatically enjoy exercise more and do not give up so quickly. In this sense, the mat is a kind of motivational aid. The exercises can be performed without unnecessary discomfort, even if they may be difficult at the beginning. The better comfort makes it easier for the exercising person to keep their balance during balance exercises. As a result, you can concentrate better on the current exercises. The joint-friendly properties are another important criterion, regardless of the area in which the exercise mat is used.

Typical applications for the different models can be found in the general fitness area, in yoga and Pilates courses, in aerobics and in floor exercises. In addition, the exercise mats from our test are used in physiotherapy and rehabilitation, for birth preparation and also for post-natal care.

In addition to pregnancy exercises, back exercises and fascia training are also important areas in which an exercise mat is used. But the mats are not only suitable for adults, children also enjoy the soft surface when they try out gymnastics or play in the children’s room.

The easy handling of the exercise mat is one of the main advantages. The mat is ready for use immediately after it has been rolled out, so that you can decide on a few quick exercises at short notice. Even light training can help keep the body flexible and fit. At the same time, the stable yet soft mat ensures that the joints are not excessively stressed.

What types of exercise Mats are available?

The nature and dimensions of the exercise mats provide information about what use they are suitable for. The mats are thus mainly characterized by their intended use. An exercise mat is not only suitable for normal exercise and a yoga mat is not only suitable for yoga. The different types of gymnastics mats can not only be used for one sport, but also for other training units. In the following we expand our test of the exercise mats with a detailed list of the different types, including the special features.

A yoga mat is generally relatively thin. In doing so, they primarily support the balance exercises that are carried out while standing. Since the feet do not sink in so much, a good balance is possible. Typically, the yoga mats are between 4 and 7 mm thick. With their degree of hardness, they offer the gymnasts optimal stability, but these mats are not as soft as most other mats. Therefore, gymnastics exercises such as sit-ups can lead to slight pressure pain.

A Pilates mat generally has the same external dimensions as a yoga mat, but it is at least 8 mm thick. The Pilates mat can be up to 1.5 cm thick and is therefore significantly softer. Above all, the Pilates exercises lying down or even lying on the side are much easier for those who exercise on these mats. The dense cell structure of the Pilates mats also ensures good stability and resilience.

A sports or gym mat can have a thickness of 6 cm and thus offers particularly strong cushioning. This makes it suitable for jumping exercises, among other things. These sports mats are mainly used in school and club sports. Here they help the exercising children and adults to protect their joints during Flic-Flac or when jumping from a horizontal bar. These sports mats are rather unsuitable for exercises at home.

Further variants of the floor mats are available in various dimensions and have been specially designed for judo or other sports, for example. The main advantages are always the same, but the individual application and the environmental conditions should always be taken into account.

What do I have to look out for when buying an exercise ball?

Our test criteria demonstrate which features have to be considered when buying a mat. When choosing the exercise mat, it is also about finding an excellent quality and at the same time keeping an eye on the intended use. The suitability cannot be determined directly based on the test criteria, but the evaluations help to make a decision. Our test of the exercise mats thus serves as an orientation when a new piece of sports equipment in the form of a mat is to be selected. For the daily yoga exercises or for the weekly gymnastics, the cushioning properties and the right size of the mats ensure optimal equipment in the private apartment or in the fitness center.

If the exercise mat is not used at home, but mostly in the gym or during a yoga class, it should be as practical as possible to transport. This is possible with a suitable bag or a fastening strap. Whether the mat should be soft or thin depends on how it is mainly used. Some exercises require particularly comfortable cushioning, while for other types of training, the surface should be as stable as possible.

A look at the certificate shows whether the sports mat has been examined for possible pollutants. The TÜV seal should always be present, not only for the comparison winner of the gymnastics mats, but also for the cheaper variants. The composition of the material is also important. Many people prefer natural materials and opt for the mats made from organic cotton or virgin wool. But the plastic and natural rubber models can also convince with their outstanding quality. The personal attitude should always be taken into account, because this is the only way to feel safe and comfortable during training.

The material not only has an effect on the training effect, but also on well-being. There are many model variants depending on how much money you want to spend on the mat and what sporty demands the users have. Our test of the exercise mats points out the differences between these versions and also informs the buyer about the respective advantages. Everyone has to find out for themselves which is the comparison test winner of the exercise mats.

A modern gymnastics mat made of plastic, for example, is made of thermoplastic elastomers, which are also known under the abbreviation TPE. These are plastics that can be elastically deformed and then find their way back to their previous shape. However, some of the mats made of this plastic have an unpleasant odor, which can lead to headaches in sensitive people.

Another plastic variant is EVA, a material that can also influence the state of health. This material should therefore not be used especially for children. Other plastic mats are provided with aromatic elements that can cause discomfort or even illness.
In contrast, PE plastic is a versatile material that regulates moisture and also scores with its skin-friendly properties. The pollutant-free material is also well suited for allergy sufferers and forms the basis for undisturbed, intensive training or for relaxing exercises while lying down.

For those who have an allergic reaction to the plastic mats or rubber-like materials, the exercise mats made of organic cotton or new wool are a good alternative. These natural substances have not been changed by plasticizers, making them particularly skin-friendly. They also have integrated moisture regulation. A certificate such as the Öko-Tex-Standard seal informs consumers that these exercise mats are harmless to health. This should be of great importance when choosing a mat.

Such a certificate may not be available for cheap exercise mats. Without this proof, however, a purchase is not recommended. The environmental friendliness and the low-pollutant properties are only guaranteed if the certification mark is also available. The high-quality mats with the appropriate labeling do not contain any harmful dyes or plasticizers, but they often cost more, like ours
Exercise mats test shows.

A mat made of natural rubber is on the one hand skin-friendly and therefore also harmless to health, on the other hand it meets the ecological requirements of people with a green conscience. In addition, the material is extremely hard-wearing. However, over the years the rubber can become porous, so these exercise mats are generally not very durable.

Which exercise mat is the right one depends, among other things, on the thickness. With padding, the mat can be up to 15 mm thick and thus forms a pleasantly soft surface. When doing gymnastics, the joints are particularly spared and the risk of bruises is significantly reduced. Pregnant women, the elderly or people with back problems benefit from this comfort.

The extremely soft mats provide double protection for sensitive bones and joints. Nevertheless, many people opt for thinner mats with a lower cushioning effect. This is due to the improved stability and balance support that characterize the flatter exercise mats. In exercises that are performed while standing, it can be annoying if the feet are pressed too deeply into the mat.

The right size should also be considered when choosing. The dimensions of the exercise mat are based primarily on the body size, but also on the main use. Often the mats with the same properties are available in different sizes so that everyone can choose the right model. The length should definitely allow enough space for the entire body; In terms of width, there are several variants that should fit well into the training room with a little more or less space and at the same time provide the necessary basis for gymnastics.

An exercise mat should roll up quickly, but it should also roll out well without creating bumps or waves, which in turn can lead to slipping. In addition, the portability of the mat plays an important role if it is regularly taken to the gym. Thanks to fresh colors and dynamic designs, the mats are easily recognizable so that there is no confusion. The individual color design also ensures a harmonious atmosphere during training and thus promotes motivation.

Where is the best place to buy my exercise Mat?

To buy an exercise mat, you can go to a specialty shop for sporting goods, a store for physiotherapy supplies or a supermarket with toys and sports goods. The simple variant is to shop on the Internet. In a specialist shop or in the corresponding department of a large department store, the employees provide intensive advice. The staff is familiar with the big and often also with smaller, unknown brands. Customers receive good tips on the suitability of the mats and learn more about the differences. The exercise mats can be viewed and touched closely. In addition, it can be determined immediately whether they emit a certain odor. This option does not exist on the Internet, but there are other advantages here.

The comparison is much easier and quicker to make online than by walking through the shops. Many portals offer a direct comparison of the mats, so that you can immediately see how the individual versions differ and how much they cost. Our exercise mat test is also available online and thus provides helpful input for choosing a model.

In addition, the Internet order scores with the practical delivery: The mat does not have to be transported home yourself, but arrives at the specified address within a short time. Depending on the delivery conditions, it can even take just one day for the exercise mat to arrive. Training can therefore begin without delay.

In addition to helpful tips on choosing an exercise mat, there are also suggestions for training on the Internet. These help in planning the fitness exercises and can be adapted to your personal workout if necessary. Whether the mat is to be used for yoga training, for Pilates or for body-shaping gymnastics exercises, the information on the mats themselves and on the training options enable targeted preparation. If you have specific questions about the mats or about the gymnastics exercises, the consultants in the shop and in the online portals will be happy to help. They also inform the buyer about the necessary care of the exercise mats and, if necessary, support them in choosing the right size.

The selection of gymnastics mats is huge and is therefore often difficult for beginners. A personal consultation in the store is widely accepted by many customers, but it is now also possible to contact the service team on the Internet. Competent help is also offered here, and the Internet makes the ordering process easier and faster. Additional information on accessories and the environmental conditions to be taken into account are also available here. The simple payment options are another argument that significantly improves online ordering compared to buying in a store.

Above all, the clear price comparison ensures the increasing trend in online purchases. With this support, it is easy for the customer to order the comparison test winner of the exercise mats at the lowest possible price.

Exercise Mat vs Yoga Mat

The differences between exercise mats and yoga mats cannot always be clearly identified. Typically, the exercise mats with a minimum thickness of 8 mm are thicker than the yoga mats, which are generally between 4 and 7 mm high. The quality of the exercise mats is also evident in their closed-cell structure. Due to this special property of the filling material, no moisture can penetrate, and the closed cells do not offer any attack surface for dirt particles. Another advantage of this quality feature is the stronger insulation. With their improved insulation properties, the exercise mats score points over the yoga mats. However, it also plays a role here that the environment for yoga exercises usually offers a more pleasant indoor climate than the gyms or fitness studios.

An exercise mat is part of fitness equipment and should not absorb sweat or moisture. This is an important basis for the longevity of the mats as well as for the long-term joint protection they offer. The yoga mats are tailored to the changed conditions, but they can still be used for gymnastics.

Typical characteristics of yoga mats are shown in their firmness, which at the same time offers a soft base. Just like the exercise mat, the yoga mat protects against joint pain, for example when you take a position on your knees. In addition, both types of mats prevent the hands, feet and the entire body from coming into direct contact with the possibly slightly soiled floor.

Yoga is based on a holistic philosophy that respects the environment and relies on naturalness. For this reason, the yoga mats are often made from natural materials. New wool mats are suitable for the colder seasons and for rooms with cold floors. These wool mats offer good protection, especially when doing exercises while sitting and lying down. Other yoga mats are made of cotton. This material is used at warmer temperatures and scores with its skin-friendliness. Especially when sweaty exercises are carried out, the cotton quality ensures a comfortable base. Plastic yoga mats impress with their non-slip properties and their durability. With plastic mats, however, care should be taken that they do not smell too strong.

The fitness and yoga exercises show how much the stress differs with the appropriate mats. Yoga is often about adapting physical health to mental sensitivity. The stress hormones can be reduced through the gentle exercises, and the cardiovascular system is strengthened through special techniques. Stretching exercises serve to optimize mobility, at the same time even beginners perceive their body better and learn to interpret the various signs.

The yoga mat supports the exerciser in performing these various exercises correctly without overstressing the joints. The advantages are evident in their non-slip stability and practical stowage: the mats can be rolled up and cleared aside in a few seconds.

With its flexibility and depending on the thickness or damping, a yoga mat can also be used for gymnastics or Pilates. With the cheaper variants, which are made of plastic, it is to be expected that the materials are contaminated with pollutants. This can be identified by an unpleasant, artificial odor.

The numerous types of gymnastics, sports and yoga mats do not make the decision easy. In order to determine the right mat for individual use, we included a wide range in our test of the exercise mats. On this basis, it should not be too difficult for those interested to find the ideal exercise mat.

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Whether you choose an exercise mat or a yoga mat therefore depends on the training plan and your personal comfort requirements. The characteristic properties of the two different types of mats indicate the possible uses. Both variants are suitable for training at home or in the studio.

While the exercise mats are designed for more or less intense fitness training, the yoga mats are based on the demands of yogis, some of whom meditate almost motionlessly or perform gentle balance exercises. In connection with the stretching exercises that take place in Pilates, the special mats were also tailored to the corresponding requirements.

Useful accessories

The different types of exercise mats do not require any accessories, but there are different holders for proper storage. These are mostly mounted directly on the wall and enable space-saving accommodation in the private fitness room.

Various systems are also available for transport. These are loops, which are often provided with handles, or other carrying systems such as bags. So that the exercise mat can be transported without damage, it must be rolled up to the appropriate size. This also means that the straps and carrying bags are not stretched too much. In some cases, these solutions involve tapes that are connected to one another several times and which can be adapted to the size of the mat or the circumference of the cylindrically rolled-up shape.

In addition to the exercise mats, there are many other sports equipment that complement the training options. These can be small balls as well as large exercise balls, stretch bands or weights such as dumbbells. With the help of these training devices, the regular exercises can be intensified, so that, for example, the muscles are strengthened or the coordination is improved.

Body awareness and the sense of balance can also be optimized depending on the exercises. With additional equipment, the private fitness room is transformed into a small training center that invites you to do a variety of exercises.

Versatile gymnastics elements make you want to train not just once a week, but several times. Motivation is stimulated by devices such as a fascia roll or a hula hoop. To ensure that the exercise mat does not slip while training while standing or jumping, it may be necessary to use additional Velcro strips to fix it on the floor. This increases the slip resistance. For even better comfort during exercises while lying down, cushioning cushions are also used, which are also available as accessories. Other extras such as floor protection or reinforcements for the edges of the mat can optimize stability and thus durability.

Exercise Mat alternatives

As already described, the exercise mat can be replaced by the comparable Pilates or yoga mats. Often the terms are even used synonymously, even if the respective types differ in certain details. Due to the padding of the training surface and the non-slip properties, the exercise mat is an ideal base.

Whether it is a parquet floor, tiles or another floor covering, that hardly matters when using an exercise mat. On the other hand, if you use a thin sleeping mat, you cannot actually call it an alternative. The necessary cushioning is not provided here, so that leaning on the wrists or knees can lead to pain. A school sports mat is the better alternative, but these are typically only used in club sports or in schools.

The high-performance properties make the practical exercise mats almost irreplaceable, whether it is a classic model or a yoga mat. If you are just starting out with some light gymnastics, you might try it on the carpet at the beginning, but this cannot replace the sophisticated systems.

A soft blanket might be useful for doing a few stretching exercises in the garden or for protecting against dirt. However, it offers no slip resistance and no joint protection. In basement rooms, old mattresses are sometimes used, which serve as a soft surface for the children to run around. However, they are not as stable as the exercise mats and can therefore only be used for sitting or lying down. However, they are by no means suitable for gymnastic training.

Frequently Asked Questions: Exercise Mats

Does the exercise mat have to be non-slip?

A non-slip mat is particularly beneficial for smooth floor coverings. When training at home, it does not matter whether parquet, laminate, tiles or linoleum was laid: thanks to its non-slip properties, the exercise mat definitely offers the necessary safety.

For many yoga exercises and also for some types of static gymnastics, however, mats can also be used that have little slip resistance. Sheep’s wool mats, for example, do not necessarily have a non-slip underside, while modern plastic mats almost always have a stabilizing layer.

Which exercise mats are suitable for allergy sufferers?

Particularly gentle and ecological sports mats are an option for allergy sufferers. These are mostly made of organic cotton, sometimes also as new wool. Although they have less suspension and do not insulate as well as the plastic mats, they are absolutely harmless for sensitive or allergic people.

The relevant information can be found in the product descriptions. You should also pay close attention to the certificates or seals to ensure that only organic materials have been used.

How long does an exercise mat last?

The durability of an exercise mat depends on the quality standard and how it is used. If the mat is often rolled in and out, this can in the long term stress the surface. Constant transport or incorrect maintenance can also affect longevity.

In general, however, the comparison winners of the exercise mats last for several years, so it is definitely worth choosing a good quality.

How to store the exercise mat?

Generally, the exercise mats are simply rolled up and held in place with one or two straps. So they can be conveniently placed in a corner where they hardly need any space. For a fitness room, a wall bracket can also be attached to hold the rolled up mat.

If you train your exercises every day, you can leave the exercise mat on the floor. However, more dust collects here than when it is rolled up. However, the flat location reduces the risk of waves forming. Because if the mat is left rolled up for too long, it can be difficult to roll it out so that it does not lie completely flat.

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