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Exercise Mats - The Importance of Exercise Mats In Your Workout Routine

Updated on March 11, 2011

By using exercise mats in your workout routine, you can increase the comfort, safety and effectiveness of your workout. Feeling safe and comfortable will allow you to focus entirely on your workout.

What might surprise you is that this is the case for not only stretch-oriented exercise or aerobic activity, but even activities like weight-lifting or using exercise equipment.

Placing an exercise bike on a hard smooth floor will reduce your efficiency and safety, so even when you're working out with elaborate exercise equipment, you should be sure to use an exercise equipment mat.

Using Exercise Mats
Using Exercise Mats

A quality gym mat provides a sturdy but supportive barrier between the floor and the individual exercising. Exercise mats protect both the space in which you exercise and your health. They provide safety, comfort and leverage for improving your overall workout.

Fitness mats improve traction as well as balance. Often times exercise mats are portable and come as a fold up exercise mat or roll up exercise mats.

Exercise equipment mats help exercise equipment stay perfectly still so that you get the most out of the exercise machine. They also provide protection for both the equipment and the gym floor.  If you like exercise bikes, than you need exercise equipment mats.

Tumbling mats provide safety at the point of impact without reducing the athlete's ability to bounce.

Most importantly, you need the right exercise mat for the situation. Don't go tumbling on an exercise mat meant for stretching exercise and don't slide a gymnastics mat underneath your elliptical trainer.

Look for exercise mats which support you properly at pressure points, fit the scale of your body and provide portable flexibility if necessary.

A Fold Up Exercise Mat
A Fold Up Exercise Mat

Exercise Mat Materials

Most exercise mats are composed of some form of rubber, vinyl or PVC.

For thicker, more heavy duty exercise mats, EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) and rubber are usually the primary materials. These days these mats are composed primarily from recycled materials. They are very rugged and durable. If you're looking for this type of mat and you're on a budget, you might consider buying used exercise mats as the material wears well over time. These aren't personal mats like roll up exercise mats which wear out fairly quickly with heavy use.

Thin exercise mats are most commonly made of PVC. Solid PVC mats will be used for exercise machine mats, such as beneath an elliptical trainer or an exercise bike. Blown PVC mats, PVC mats with an air-blown treatment to create more cushion, are often used for personal training such as aerobics or individual stretch-based exercise.

Fitness Mats and Sweat

When you start shopping for your ideal exercise mat, keep in mind how it will function when you perspire. An otherwise safe and effective exercise mat will turn slick and dangerous with a little sweat dripped upon it. What kind of texture and absorbency does the exercise mat feature? How will your hands or feet grip upon that surface if it were a little slick with sweat?

What kind of exercise will you be performing with your chosen mat? How much will your exercise cause you to sweat over the mat? Be sure to keep these questions in mind when you consider how your personal fitness mat or tumbling mat will function after a rigorous, sweating workout routine.

How To Clean Exercise Mats

As long as you adhere to a few simple rules, you should have no problem cleaning and maintaining your exercise mat.

  • Never pour water, soap or any other cleaning agent directly on the gym mat.
  • Always dry your exercise mat thoroughly before storing, transporting or reusing.
  • Always adhere to cautions provided by the manufacturer; this often includes a note to not use alcohol or harsh cleaning agents upon the exercise mat.
  • Never, ever begin an exercise regiment on a even slightly damp exercise mat. Always let it try completely before using.

To clean your exercise mat, create a mixture of warm water and little bit of basic soap in a small bowl or bucket. Soak your sponge or cloth within this mixture then carefully wring it to eliminate excessive, dripping liquids. Then wipe your fitness mat in a methodical pattern so you clean all parts of it. Keep dipping it in the bucket or bowel and wringing every few wipes.

I suggest then using a separate, clean towel to get the drying started. Even after a towel dry, you will need to place it somewhere to air dry for a while. You might try hanging it over a strong curtain rod and directing a fan towards it. If you feel comfortable putting it outside for a while, spreading it over a bench or chair can work as well.

I hope this helps you better understand the important role of exercise mats in your overall workout routine. They bring greater safety, comfort and productivity into your exercise regiment, whether you desire to engage in something mild like stretching or you've been smitten by the great P90X reviews and you're looking for an intense workout.  They simply should not be overlooked. If you keep a properly cleaned and maintained exercise mat around, you'll experience far fewer injuries in your lifetime of fitness.


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