The Difference Between an Exercise Mat and a Yoga Mat

At first glance, yoga and exercise mats might look identical, even interchangeable.

But as you look closely, you notice several distinctions that make each beneficial for certain activities.

Let’s go over the three primary differences:

  • Purpose

The primary difference between these is their purpose. A yoga mat is designed for some light and less dynamic training. Trainees should be barefoot. 

In contrast, an exercise mat is more resilient and designed for intense training, where trainees can place equipment on top and wear shoes.


  • Density

An exercise mat is of higher density and protects your body when doing intense exercises on the floor.  Mats also absorb the force of dropping weight, preventing noise and floor damage.

Yoga mats are less dense than exercise mats, so they are softer than exercise mats, and provide as much support due to the less intense activities (static poses, stretching, etc.).


  • Surface

The surface of a yoga mat is typically textured and grippier to provide the necessary traction you need to maintain poses and not slide into uncomfortable positions. 

In contrast, exercise mats typically have a smoother surface. They also provide a decent grip but are designed in a way that allows you to easily clean sweat that may fall on the surface during an intense workout.

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