Updated: December 2017

Exercise Mat Reviews:

When boiled down, all you really need for exercise is a willing attitude. That makes everything else possible; you find the time, or make it, you stop making excuses, and you just do it, to quote Nike. That being said, though, great exercise equipment also helps make a big difference in our preparedness, comfort during activities, safety, motivation, and even results. Exercise mats are particularly important for those doing yoga, Pilates, and other floor-based fitness routines or for those working on hard surfaces, such as hardwood or tile. But how much of a difference can a high quality mat make? It may mean the difference between working out or sitting it out - a very big difference indeed. Here is your guide to finding the best exercise mat for your needs.

Why Is a Great Exercise Mat a Workout Essential?

- Exercise equipment mats are important because they provide the padding that will protect your tailbone, knees, and elbows during training; if you've ever tried to do a move like the seal (Pilates), you know that it can hurt when you are performing it on the bare floor. Again, a great mat can mean the difference between completing your routine or leaving essential abdominal, core, and flexibility moves out. Selecting the Best Exercise Mat - To the uninitiated, an exercise mat is an exercise mat. But before you choose one indiscriminately, it is important to take into consideration a few factors:

*The activity for which the mat will be used primarily. This will help you determine the thickness of the mat. Yoga mats, for instance, are thinner than Pilates mats because Pilates movements require more padding for the hips and tailbone, while standing yoga poses may be affected by a thicker mat.
*The portability. You can find interlinking foam or rubber exercise mats to fit over your floor. While great for a home gym, you'd need a more portable option for going to classes or if you need to pack up your "home gym" after each workout.
*Gripping. You don't want to slip and slide all over the floor, unless you're doing it on purpose.
*The size. A six-foot mat is generally a good choice, although longer mats may work better, particularly if you are taller. Make sure the mat is wide enough as well for your personal size and for the types of exercises you will be doing.
*Sweat. For vigorous activity, choose a closed-cell foam mat over an open-cell mat. The closed-cell construction will keep sweat and body oils from being absorbed into the mat.
*The green factor. You can find eco-friendly mats made from jute, tatami, or recycled materials. You may want to consider opting for those made with recycled closed-cell foam mats, which offer more protection for floor exercises. The Harbinger Eco Fit Mat, for example, is made of 100 percent recyclable foam and has a sweat-resistant closed foam construction. It is also 25 percent lighter than traditional foam, making it great to take to class. The price is comparable to other mats in this class at just under $32.
*The other green factor. Exercise floor mats can cost well under $20 or well over $100. Your budget is a major factor, but do get the best quality you can afford for the health and safety of your body. Your back will thank you. And you'll be much more likely to work out again if you're pain-free.

Looking for exercise mat reviews - we found plenty on websites like Pilates.About.com, Epinions, REI, and Amazon. You can find them in stores like Walmart or Target and sporting goods stores. You can browse the best selling exercise mats here.

Best Exercise Mats:

ConsumerSearch rates the Black Manduka Mat Pro as their top pick for Best Yoga Mat. Despite a steeper price tag, the Black Manduka receives rave reviews for its exceptional durability. At a 1/4 inch, the mat is thicker than many other yoga mats, but it offers a very firm, dense surface that will work perfectly for standing poses. Manduka Mat users love the padding and the no-slip grip on both the front and back of the mat. It can also pull double duty as a Pilates mat because of the thickness. The Black Manduka Mat Pro lists for $90, but you can find it for $80 (plus free shipping) on Amazon. Expensive, but this mat will last through years and years of sweaty use. If this is too much for your budget, don't give up on yoga quite yet. ConsumerSearch suggests the Yoga Accessories Extra Thick Deluxe Mat for about $20. Both can be used for Pilates as well. About.MensHealth went with the Aeromat Elite Dual Surface Exercise Mat as their top pick, citing its excellent padding and closed-cell construction. The Aeromat features phthalate-free PVC closed-cell foam, a no-slip, ribbed, water-and sweat-resistant surface. You can choose your width to allow for yoga, Pilates, and other floor exercises, and you can choose your color, which is what one Amazon consumer especially loved. The Aeromat is $30 to $78, depending on the size you choose. Wellsphere touts the fitness guidance of the G2 Fit Self-Guiding Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat, also a favorite of the very fit Paula Abdul. The G2 features a 100 percent, eco-friendly construction that is bacteria-resistant, washable, and non-slip. The 28 popular yoga poses printed on the mat make it ideal for those who want to learn yoga at home. At about 1/8-inch thick, it is a little thin for Pilates or exercises which require a lot of intensive work on the tailbone, vertebrae, hips, or knees. The G2 is just over $30, and there is also an ab version for the same price. The mats mentioned are relatively thin, ideally suited for Pilates, yoga, or floor work for people with good backs. If you do have a back problem, or just need extra padding, the Harbinger 340400 3-Part Exercise Mat is highly recommended by Amazon reviewers. It has two-inch thick padding for great support and comfort, particularly for those with bad backs. The three-fold design allows for portability and convenient storage. One downside noted by a reviewer was that the mat is relatively small: it measures 24 inches wide by 60 inches long. If you think you can work within the size range, this is a great, supportive mat for $44. Don't let a hard floor keep you from the exercise you love to do - or that you need to do. A great mat will last much longer than your sneakers and cost much less than a gym membership. Keep fit simply and effectively with the right tools. See top rated exercise and yoga mats here.