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Exercise Mats

Use an exercise floor mat for a more comfortable workout

Exercise mats are porous, cushioned mats that provide a soft surface for a variety of exercises. Exercise floor mats are usually made of rubber or foam and are rather inexpensive—some are even less than $15. These inexpensive mats may seem too thin to provide support, but they are made from a cushioned latex and rubber combination that can withstand a significant amount of weight. More expensive mats are usually more cushioned (with jute, PVC or vinyl) and have a longer lifespan.

The mat you choose depends on what type of activity you'll be using it for and how sensitive you are. Stretching, floor exercises and muscle building activities can all benefit from use of an exercise mat, and the roll-up or folding portability of a mat allows you to take your workout anywhere—home, the gym or even on vacation.

Yoga Mats

Exercise mats are popularly used in yoga and Pilates classes since many of the poses could be uncomfortable on a hard surface. Yoga studios usually expect students to bring their own materials, including an exercise mat to lie or stand on while performing the poses. The props in commercially sold yoga kits vary greatly but almost all of them contain a soft, full-length mat.

When choosing a yoga or Pilates mat, make sure the mat's thickness and density is sufficient to cushion your joints even during the most vigorous part of your workout. Mats that wear thin quickly, don't provide sufficient cushioning or are too small won't really be a bargain, no matter how little they cost. While there's no need to break the bank, it is worth buying a more expensive mat that offers enough space and support and will last.

Exercise Equipment Mats

Exercise floor mats are also used to increase the safety and versatility of various exercise equipment—especially weight benches. When choosing an exercise equipment mat, one of those most important considerations is traction. You want to be able to firmly plant your feet or otherwise gain leverage during your workout. This can be difficult and even dangerous if the mat is smooth or slick with sweat.

Another consideration when choosing exercise equipment mats is how easy they are to clean. Dirt will degrade a mat's texture over time, reducing the traction and increasing the chance of accidents. Mats can be wiped clean with some soap and water, but it is important to make sure the mat has a chance to dry before being moved or stored. You may want to check the absorption rate to see how quickly the mats will dry.

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