Last updated: 04/08/2020

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In a world where time is money, every hour, minute, and second matters. The value of our time constantly fluctuates, and we have to maximize it. Mats have come to help us deal with this post-modern stress. They allow us to perform ancient practices such as yoga, or simple exercise if we are not so spiritual.

The best mats are waiting for you to revitalize your mental and physical health. Whether you go to a yoga class, the gym, or simply work out in your living room, these accessories are always there when you decide to dedicate a moment to your health and personal introspection. If you aren’t quite familiar with mats just yet, sit back and relax while reading our guide!

Key Facts

  • The type of mat you should choose depends on the activity you want to do. You can find four main types of mats: yoga mats, exercise mats, acupressure mats, and inflatable mats. Study each one carefully before making a decision based on your needs.
  • If you opt for a yoga mat, it is essential that it be non-slip. This will allow it to adhere better to the floor so you can perform asanas (or yoga poses) knowing that you won’t slip and hurt yourself in the process.
  • We will delve into the main shopping criteria for mats in the final section of our guide. The manufacturing material, for instance, is vital. The components used to make a mat ultimately determine its durability, as well as how easy it is to clean and to transport.

Our Selection: The Best Mats on the U.S. Market

When it comes to practicing sports or devoting yourself to the physical and mental discipline of yoga, you need to have the right accessories to make your practice easier and more fruitful. A mat will allow you to do any exercise – from yoga postures to simple push-ups – much more easily. In the section below, you will discover our very own selection of the best mats currently available on the market:

Best Yoga Mat

Are you looking to give yoga a go this year? Or are you an advanced yogi in search of a new mat? Either way, Gaiam’s mat is a tried and tested accessory for your practice. Available in a wide variety of elegant and relaxing designs, it is extra thick (6 mm) for increased comfort but light enough for you to carry around. In case you’re wondering about its durability, you should know that it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Best Exercise Mat

There are unlimited workout routines you can perform from home to get fit or stay in shape, but having a quality exercise mat is key. HemingWeigh’s model features a self-strapping system for easy transport and a double-sided non-slip surface for greater stability. Manufactured with extra thick foam, it is built to last and has a 2-year warranty. You’ll be ready to reach all your fitness goals with this comfortable exercise mat.

Best Acupressure Mat

This acupressure kit by ProsourceFit is mainly designed to soothe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as reduce stress. The set includes a mat and a pillow. The former features 6,210 acupressure points, while the latter has a total of 1,782. Made from 100% cotton and eco foam, this product is the ideal accessory to relax your body and regenerate your mind. This acupressure mat is available in 7 different colors.

Best Inflatable Mat

This Amazon Best Seller is an affordable, high-quality inflatable mat for all your outdoor adventures – from camping trips to music festivals. Protected by a lifetime warranty, Sleepingo’s model combines incredible comfort – with a 2-inch thickness – and lightness, weighing in at only 14 ounces. It is made from heavy-duty ripstop nylon fabric, a highly tear-resistant material that will allow you to take your inflatable mat virtually anywhere.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Mats

Mats have become a staple accessory in the practice of yoga and many other types of exercise. Our world is often driven by materialism, and free time has become a real luxury for many of us. However, mats are gaining popularity as we witness a rising trend to care for our bodies and minds. Before you abandon yourself to new practices, you can learn more about these accessories in the following section.

girls doing yoga

Mats have gained popularity thanks to the practice of yoga and other types of exercise.
(Source: Roman Samborskyi: 86148349/ 123rf.com)

Why are mats so popular?

Although mats are becoming increasingly popular, many people still don’t know much about them and, therefore, cannot make the most of these handy and versatile accessories. A mat is basically a rectangular piece of material that is placed on the floor so that you can exercise or simply lie on it without resting directly on it.

In the past, they were made of straw or other low-resistance materials such as cotton. However, technological advances and the desire to improve of many manufacturers have led the best mats to be available in a wide variety of materials: polyester, several rubbers, microfibers, or plastics such as PVC and POE.

What are the advantages of using a mat?

If you are just getting started in the fascinating world of yoga or have finally decided to get in shape with exercises such as crunches and situps, all you will need is a high-quality, affordable mat to reach your goals. If you still don’t believe us, you can compare the benefits and drawbacks of these accessories in the table below:

Advantages
  • Anti-slip
  • Good for the joints
  • They take up very little space
  • Generally easy to carry around
  • Mostly affordable
  • Thermal insulation from the ground
  • Flexible and resilient
  • Often made from environmentally friendly materials
  • You can practice sports or yoga anywhere
  • They prevent the accumulation of sweat and other humidity
  • Very easy to clean
  • Extremely light
  • Inflatable models are like portable beds
  • Acupressure mats offer a wide range of health benefits
Disadvantages
  • They tend to wear out over time and lose their properties
  • Not all options are tailored to every use
  • Some materials are not very environmentally friendly

What kind of mats are currently on the market?

If you checked out our selection of the best mats available out there, you have probably noticed that they are not all the same. Just like with most modern products, variety is the norm when it comes to mats. This is why affordable yoga models aren’t your only option anymore, and you can tailor your model to different activities:

  • Yoga mats: A classic among classics, the yoga mat focuses on the practice of this age-old spiritual and physical discipline. Nowadays, many models also feature lines of asanas on the edges to help beginners perform specific basic postures. Their main features are a reduced thickness and a tremendous anti-slip capacity.
  • Exercise mats: They tend to be a little thicker and a little less flexible, since they are designed for the intense practice of classic exercises such as push-ups or situps, for example. That being said, the difference between yoga and exercise mats is often negligible.
  • Acupressure mats: The aim of these accessories is to exert pressure on certain points of the body in search of muscle relaxation and improved blood flow. They feature hundreds of pressure points that can help you treat a wide variety of pains and aches, in particular in the back, neck, and shoulder areas.
  • Inflatable mats: While you can use some models to practice yoga or even work out, this isn’t their intended purpose. As you may have seen in the product description of our favorite inflatable mat, it is a sort of portable bed ideal for mountain and camping activities.

Do acupressure mats really work?

While you will always find people who claim that these accessories do not contribute to the overall well-being of our bodies, numerous studies and scientific articles have been published in the last decade indicating that they indeed had therapeutic potential. There are countless ways to use an acupressure mat, and here are the three levels of benefit you will experience if you lie on it:

  • During the first 15 minutes of use: Acupressure points come into contact with the skin. This stimulates the body, which begins to release oxytocin and endorphins to help achieve a feeling of general well-being and relaxation.
  • Between 20 and 30 minutes of use: You can fee a mild to medium analgesic effect that contributes to reducing your stress levels. Tensions begin to disappear, and your blood flow improves as you feel a pleasant drowsiness.
  • Over 45 minutes of use: The analgesic properties intensify with prolonged use. Pains and inflammations you suffer from tend to disappear almost entirely. You are now experiencing acupressure in all its glory!
mats on the floor

While you will always find people who claim that these accessories do not contribute to the overall well-being of our bodies, numerous studies and scientific articles have been published in the last decade indicating that they indeed had therapeutic potential.
(Source: dolgachov: 87213302/ 123rf.com)

How should I clean my mat?

Just like with any other product you use to exercise, cleaning your mat is essential. You are continually exposing this accessory to your sweat as it comes into contact with your body. In addition, it is lightweight, and you probably carry it around with you all day if you have a yoga or fitness class scheduled. This is why it is so vital that you follow specific maintenance rules for your mat.

If the model you purchase is made from materials such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), machine washing is sufficient. However, your washing machine can damage it if it is manufactured with other compounds, such as rubber. The old-fashioned manual method is often the best one, as it is suitable for any type of material. Here is what you can do to keep your mat spotless:

  • Get a soft-bristle brush or a good chamois cloth.
  • Use soap and warm water. Apply this to your cleaning tool and scrub the mat.
  • You should then hang the mat in a cool place. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight.

How should I set up my mat?

This may seem like a silly question, but not everyone knows how to do it. We have listed various tips below to help you set up your mat correctly. That way, you can get the most out of it and avoid potential accidents:

  • Make sure that the ground where you want to place the mat is free of elements that could break or damage it during your exercises.
  • Avoid setting the mat on a slippery slope. While these accessories are designed to adhere powerfully to the ground, they are not foolproof either.
  • Make sure that the side with anti-slip properties is in contact with the floor. This is particularly important if both sides of your mat are the same color.
  • If your model has an aluminum side, consider the weather when you are using it outside. If you are cold, you should have the aluminum facing up. Otherwise, do the opposite; this will give you a greater refreshing feeling.
girl doing planks

Just like with any other product you use to exercise, cleaning your mat is essential. You are constantly exposing this accessory to your sweat as it comes into contact with your body.
(Source: Undrey: 48565370/ 123rf.com)

Buyer’s Guide

Nowadays, staying fit has become essential. Our bodies are often exposed to sedentary work and demand movement, which will always have a positive impact on our mental health. Before you start doing yoga, working out, or simply resting on your mat, let’s analyze some key shopping criteria. They will help you choose the right model for your needs:

Grip

The grip is especially important for yoga and exercise mats. When you work out on this accessory, the last thing you want is to feel unstable or slip and hurt yourself. Make sure that the model you want is non-slip. As you can imagine, this feature is quite irrelevant for inflatable mats.

ready to do exercise

Make sure that the model you want is non-slip if you are looking to practice yoga or work out on it.
(Source: Aleksandr Davydov: 112483371/ 123rf.com)

Type of Mat

The type of mat you should buy will be determined by the activity you want to practice. As we discussed earlier, you can find four primary kinds on the market – some of which are more versatile than others. We have prepared the following table to help you figure out which type is the right one for you based on your goals:

If you want to You should use
Practice yoga as a beginner A yoga mat with asana lines
Practice yoga at a more advanced level A more durable yoga mat
Treat back, shoulder, or neck pain An acupressure mat
Perform exercises like push-ups, situps, etc. An exercise mat
A versatile bed to rest during mountain activities or on camping trips An inflatable mat

Materials

The materials your mat is made with are essential, too. They will determine not only its durability, but also its ease of use and, above all, the comfort of your skin. If you are buying an acupressure mat, for instance, make sure that the points are hypoallergenic. In addition, the materials should be easy to clean.

Transportation

Yogis and athletes sometimes like to take their practice outside of their homes. If this is your case, you should opt for a sturdy-yet-light mat that you can easily carry around. When it comes to inflatable mats, portability is non-negotiable. You certainly don’t want a cumbersome model to take on your camping trips or to the mountains.

girl resting on a mat in the grass

Yogis and athletes sometimes like to take their practice outside of their homes, which is why sturdy mats are handy.
(Source: Victor Koldunov: 81153795/ 123rf.com)

Size

Our last criterion is size. This doesn’t focus exclusively on the length and width, which tend to vary little from one model to the next. Thickness is actually the key to this aspect. Depending on this factor, your mat will be able to support more or less weight. Besides, this will strongly influence your feeling of comfort.

Summary

In an increasingly chaotic world, it is becoming indispensable to take more time to care for ourselves. Mats are a great investment that will allow you to exercise in any room at home or the gym. Inflatable mats will also accompany you on all your outdoor activities.

But you can’t simply buy the first mat you see; you have to think about what you want it for. This will determine the type you need, but don’t forget to evaluate other factors such as the manufacturing materials and size. In order to give the right healthy boost to your life, it is important that you make an informed decision for a successful purchase.

We hope that our guide has contributed to your quest for the best mat on the market. If that’s the case, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share this article on your social media!

(Source of featured image: Davydov: 109162697/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Thibault Perinet Freelance Writer & World Traveler
As a literature and translation licensee and avid traveler, language has always been at the heart of my daily life. A freelance writer since 2014, I love to delve into a variety of topics that contribute to my professional and personal development. My favorite things in life? Maté in the morning, soccer with friends, and old school hip hop.