Yoga Mats vs. Exercise Mats: Is There A Difference?

Yoga Mats vs. Exercise Mats: Is There A Difference?

Mats are used to provide extra comfort for you during your exercise routine or yoga practice. They can be very beneficial in preventing your hands and feet from slipping, adding a cushion under your body during lying exercises, and absorbing shock. 

Is there a difference between a yoga mat and an exercise mat? There are four main differences between a yoga mat and an exercise mat. 

CharacteristicsYoga Mat Exercise Mat
ThicknessA standard yoga mat is about ⅛ inch thick with the thickest being ¼ inch.  A standard exercise mat is about one inch thick and can be up to two inches thick. 
SizeThe standard size for a yoga mat is 24 inches wide and 68 inches long. Different sized exercise mats range from 68-98 inches long and 24-48 inches wide.
Material Most yoga mats are made out of PVC, but earth-friendly mats are made out of recycled rubber, organic cotton, jute, or bamboo.Some exercise mats are made out of closed-cell PVC with a vinyl cover. Some are made from rubber.
Purpose The primary purpose of a yoga mat is to prevent the hands and feet from slipping. They also provide a cushion for floor poses. Exercise mats provide cushion for floor exercises and stretches. They can also absorb some of the shock from jumping exercises. 

Whether you are practicing yoga or are performing exercises like crunches, jumping jacks, or push-ups, having a mat under you is very beneficial. When choosing which mat is best for you, there are some things you should consider. Read on to figure out if a yoga mat or an exercise mat is better for your fitness needs.

Yoga Mats

Yoga mats are designed for low-impact exercises and poses. When practicing yoga, you want to be close to the floor and Earth to feel the energetic connection. That is why yoga mats are made to be thinner than an exercise mat. They provide just enough cushion for your movements, preventing your hands and feet from slipping while enabling you to feel connected to the Earth’s energy.

A standard mat is 1/8 inch thick, but you can choose a mat that is ¼ inch thick for added cushion. Some yoga mats come in a thinner 1/16 inch thickness, which allows them to be more compact and easy to travel with.

Yoga mats are typically made out of PVC or vinyl, but if you want a more earth-friendly kind, you can choose from cotton, bamboo, jute, or recycled rubber. The material of the yoga mat you choose will also provide a different grip and texture. 

PVC mats tend to be more slippery when first bought but are stickier than rubber mats, which allow them to adhere to the floor better. On the other hand, rubber yoga mats have more grip to them. 

Two important things to consider when choosing a yoga mat are:

  1. Texture – The texture of the mat will help keep you from sliding off your mat, especially when you have begun sweating. 
  2. Stickiness – This is the mat’s ability to stick to the ground. This is important because you don’t want the mat to slip out from under you during poses. 

Here are some great yoga mats that you could try:

  • IUGA Pro Non Slip Yoga Mat: This eco-friendly yoga mat is great for everyday yoga, hot yoga, and everything in between. Odorless and lightweight materials designed by yogis for yogis.
  • Gaiam Premium Yoga Mat: This non-slip yoga mat is perfect if you are just starting your yoga journey and on a budget. Lightweight and Reversible!
  • Clever Yoga Mat: This extra grip yoga mat is designed to give you the most comfortable yoga experience possible without sliding out from under you.
  • Manduka PRO Yoga Mat: This is a chemical-free, eco-friendly, 6mm thick yoga mat with excellent traction and dense cushioning.

Exercise Mats

Exercise mats are designed for more high-impact exercises and ground exercises. These mats are perfect for providing a cushion under you while you are doing jump exercises like jumping jacks, burpees, or jump rope. They also provide enough comfort for when you are doing floor exercises like crunches, push-ups, or pilates moves.

Standard size is about one inch thick, but you can find some that are two inches thick. The thickness of an exercise mat is what allows you to be able to do more high-impact movements without causing pain in your joints.They take away some of the shock from jumping. 

The thicker mats are beneficial for people who sweat more because the thickness is more sweat-absorbant. When purchasing an exercise mat for workouts that make you sweaty, search for one that is made with a vinyl cover because they are easy to clean.

Exercise mats aren’t only beneficial for mat exercises; they can also be used for:

  • Placing underneath exercise equipment to protect your floor from any scratches. 
  • Protecting your floor from the impact of dropping weights. 

Since exercise mats are made for high-intensity workouts that can include you jumping around, they are typically made broader and longer than yoga mats. In yoga, you are not moving far from your mat; instead, you stay in one place and practice different yoga poses. Exercise mats cater to workouts that feature more movement.

Here are some highly recommended exercise mats for you to check out:

  • ProsourceFit Tri-Fold Exercise Mat: This 1 ½ inch exercise mat is available in blue, grey, and black and features a durable vinyl surface with a long-lasting foam interior. It also easily folds for easy transport and compact storage.
  • HemingWeigh Extra Thick Foam Exercise Mat: This mat is extra-long and extra thick, giving you the ultimate in comfort while exercising. It is lightweight, incredibly durable, and features a non-slip surface on both sides.
  • BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat: This exercise mat offers customization of your comfort with interlocking “puzzle” mat tiles that range from ½ inch to 1 inch thick. It offers superior cushion for your joints while remaining lightweight and easy to clean.

Similarities Between Yoga Mats and Exercise Mats

The most notable differences between yoga mats and exercise mats are the thickness, texture, and size. Exercise mats are thicker and have a smoother texture to absorb shock and provide a cushion. Yoga mats are thin to allow the yogi to stay connected to the ground while preventing the hands and feet from slipping.

Although they are mats made for different types of exercise, these mats have several things in common; they both:

  • Provide cushion
  • Provide grip
  • Prevent slipping
  • Are moisture-wicking

Which Is Better For You?

When deciding whether you should get an exercise mat or stick with a yoga mat, there are a couple of things to consider. You want to keep in mind the type of exercises you will be performing to make sure you choose the proper mat to prevent injury.

Yoga mats should be used for low impact exercises that won’t put a strain on the joints. Because yoga mats are made to be thin, exercises that are high intensity should be avoided to prevent shock. Exercises that can be performed with just a yoga mat include:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Push-ups
  • Barre
  • Mountain climbers
  • Bodyweight exercises

Because exercise mats are thicker than yoga mats, they are suitable for high-impact exercises because they can absorb the shock. These type of exercises include:

  • Burpees
  • Jump squats
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jump roping 

The thickness of the mat also provides comfort for floor exercises that may be hard on the spine. These include any types of crunches. 


Yoga and exercise mats serve the purpose of providing some comfort and stability in your workouts. Yoga mats are the thinner of the two and have the sole purpose of preventing your hands and feet from slipping while you are holding poses. 

Exercise mats are much thicker than the yoga mats and are used for high-intensity workouts. They are best for these types of exercises because the thickness can absorb the shock that comes with jumping. They are also great for spine comfort during floor exercises and can protect your floors from exercise equipment.


Yoga have been a part of Dakota's life for 10+ years. Her practice has helped her grow stronger, more flexible and fearless. Dakota encourages her students to be creative and challenge the body. She seeks to inspire every student to feel refreshed, nourished and balanced both on and off the mat.

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