Exercising on a hardwood floor can be excruciating on your back. Even performing some Pilates routines on carpet can be a little slippery. This is why you need to have exercise mats when working out on the floor, whether at home or in the gym.
Even though exercise mats are readily available in your local gym, some people prefer bringing their own mat. It is not as expensive as it looks, as you can have your very own exercise mat for as low as $20 to as splurging as $60.
However, not all exercise mats are created the same, which is why you need to know the differences between these types of mats.
This is the most commonly-used type of exercise mat used for general fitness activities like sit-ups, push-ups, or any exercise that requires supporting your body on hands, knees, or elbows.
The less expensive mats are made of foam, which would compress over time and need to be replaced. Also, cheaper mats lack traction, which could make it slippery if you use this on carpet, or can cause your body to slip while on the mat.
Higher-quality fitness mats have air pockets that ensure better cushioning, as well as added traction for longer-lasting usage. However, fitness mats are not ideal for yoga and Pilates as these are too thick for such activities and do not offer the traction necessary for those exercises.
Also called "sticky mats," yoga mats are thinly-cushioned and provide a non-slip surface, making them ideal for yoga practices. Because of their thinness, yoga mats are best used on a smooth floor.
Although they offer a bit more padding compared to a hard floor, these mats would not cushion your body well enough for general fitness activities.
The sticky surface of yoga mats can be easily cleaned, and can also be rolled-up so you can store it easily and carry it conveniently. Some yoga mats now come with extra-thick varieties as well.
Pilates mats are similar to yoga mats, only thicker. Pilates requires more cushion and traction because this exercise requires rocking and rolling up from a supine position, thus protecting your spine from injury.