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Which exercise mats are best?

A good exercise mat can be transformative for your workouts. This is true for home full-body workouts as well as heavy sweat sessions at the gym. Finding something that can add comfort and cleanliness to floor exercises, or even some cushion to the weight room floor, can make your workouts more effective.

If you’re looking for an exercise mat that’s easy to store while being thick enough to add extra padding to floor exercises, be sure to look into the Sunny Health & Fitness Gymnastic Tumbling Mat.

What to know before you buy an exercise mat


Different exercise mats suit different purposes. Whether you plan on using your workout apps to schedule at-home workouts, or you want a mat you can bring with you to the gym for softened floor exercises, you want to get your workout goals clear. Do you need a mat to cover a lot of surface area, such as flooring for a basement weight room? Or do you need a mat that’s easily portable to take with you to the gym, out on the lawn or that will fit in your crowded living room? Consider what types of exercises you plan to do. Thicker, more heavy-weight mats do better with high-impact exercises whereas thinner mats are best for low-impact exercises. 


It’s beneficial to consider how you’ll store your mat, or if storage is even necessary. If you need a big mat to cover an entire floor so your home gym has some padding, storage isn’t really something to worry about. The mats will likely always be out. However, if you don’t have a dedicated space to work out in your home, then you likely want something that is easy to pull out and put away. Mats that roll up are often the easiest to store. Unfortunately, they offer the least amount of padding. Thicker mats provide far more cushion but are harder to store.


Different size mats work best for different people and exercise goals. If you just need some padding for a yoga class, you can get away with a smaller, thinner mat. In many cases, this is preferable since smaller mats are easier to transport. They are also easier for people with smaller bodies to manage. If you want a mat for high-impact exercises or to add padding around large exercise machines, you definitely want to go with a larger, more substantial mat. 

What to look for in a quality exercise mat


The thicker the mat, the more comfortable it will be. However, there is such a thing as too thick. If your mat is too squishy, certain exercises will be difficult. Balancing on a spongy surface is more challenging than on a harder one. Test out different exercises on different mats to find your ideal thickness. Most yoga mats are between 1/16 and 1/8-inches thick, which makes them easy to roll and still be sturdy on the ground. Some exercise mats can be as thick as 2 inches, making them more padded and durable, but harder to roll or transport. You don’t want your bones pressing through the mat into the floor, but you don’t want the mat too thick for effective exercise.


Some materials aren’t ideal for exercise mats. Check the material type before selecting your mat. Avoid anything that traps moisture since this will only lead to smelliness and dirtiness through use. Ideally, your mat is vinyl, rubber or high-density polyethylene. A waterproof surface is preferable. This makes cleaning easier and helps prevent the mat from absorbing sweat. You can wash a waterproof mat with soap and water to keep it smelling nice without damaging its longevity.


The texture of your mat determines its traction. You want a mat that won’t slide around on the ground as you workout, but you also want something that you won’t slide around on as you sweat through a workout. Something that’s grippy will keep your workouts more stable. Make sure you enjoy the feeling of the mat, however, since some users don’t prefer a bumpy surface. 

How much you can expect to spend on an exercise mat

You can spend anywhere from $20-$500 on an exercise mat depending on the size and thickness of the mat.

Exercise mat FAQ

Is there a difference between an exercise mat and a yoga mat?

A. Exercise mats are designed for higher impact exercises, and for any users not wanting to feel super close to the ground. Yoga mats are designed for low-impact exercises, so they are thinner and more malleable.

How thick should my exercise mat be?

A. The ideal thickness of your exercise mat depends on your exercise goals. A yoga mat can be as thin as 1/16 inch, while rubber gym flooring tends to be about 3/4 inch. Some exercise mats are 2 inches thick. Consider something thicker if you will be dropping a lot of weights and something thinner if you need portability.

What are the best exercise mats to buy?

Top exercise mat

Sunny Health & Fitness Gymnastic Tumbling Mat

Sunny Health & Fitness Gymnastic Tumbling Mat

What you need to know: A tri-fold design and removable cover make this exercise mat perfect for anyone wanting a portable, easy-to-clean exercise surface. 

What you’ll love: The 2-inch thickness of this mat makes it great for a variety of exercises. A vinyl cover provides durability and cleanliness. As an added bonus, it comes with a tri-folding design and nylon handles for painless travel and storage. 

What you should consider: Some users complain that this mat develops dents and divots in places where you regularly put weight.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top exercise mat for the money

Fitness Gear 5mm Fitness Mat

Fitness Gear 5mm Fitness Mat

What you need to know: This rollable, 5-millimeter thick mat is ideal for yoga, pilates and gentle floor exercises.

What you’ll love: If you need some extra comfort for stretching or a clean space to perform your floor exercises, this mat gets the job done. Lightweight and flexible, it can fit into a variety of spaces, provide protection to different floor types and energize your body through a variety of workouts. 

What you should consider: Some users complain that this mat doesn’t hold up well against vigorous exercises.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

Fitness Gear 3x6 Folding Exercise Mat II

Fitness Gear 3×6 Folding Exercise Mat II

What you need to know: Great for both intense floor exercises and yoga practice, this 2-inch thick mat is the perfect way to add padding to your workouts.

What you’ll love: A moisture-resistant surface makes this mat easy to clean. The substantial dimensions make it great for pilates, yoga, aerobics and even martial arts practice. The foldability and carrying handles make it easy to store and transport.

What you should consider: Some users think this mat feels thin despite the 2-inch thickness.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

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Abbey Ryan writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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