We updated this guide in August 2022 to ensure all products tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute are in stock, available and accurately priced. We also added more testing information, shopping tips and answers to frequently asked questions about workout mats.
Before you start shopping for equipment essentials like a set of dumbbells and kettlebells, make sure you have a top-quality exercise mat — the crucial foundation of your home fitness haven. Every workout starts with unrolling a mat, whether you're at a pilates class or stretching before lifting weights, so you need a quality pick with excellent grip and cushioning. As you build up a sweat, your workout mat needs to be able to keep up, so choose a mat compatible with whatever workout you are doing — a hot yoga class and an intense HIIT session require different priorities.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab and Nutrition Lab test all types of fitness products from sports bras to workout apps to help you on your fitness journey. To evaluate exercise mats and yoga mats, GH fiber scientists measure each mat's thickness and weight and clean it to test how it holds up to daily wear and tear — and cleaners. Our panel of testers then try them out to give feedback on support, cushioning, grip, appearance and more. Testers logged over 200 hours of sweat sessions testing these mats! After testing 17 yoga mats and 11 exercise mats, GH analysts found the best exercise mats to buy.
Our top picks:
1Best Overall Exercise MatThe Infinity Mat Yoga Design Lab Read More
2Best Value Exercise MatPremium Print Reversible Workout Mat Gaiam Read More
3Best Yoga MatOriginal Yoga Mat LIFORME Read More
4Best Ultra Thick Exercise MatPuzzle Exercise Mat with EVA Foam Interlocking Tiles BalanceFrom Read More
5Best Large Exercise Mat6'x4' Exercise Mat Gxmmat Read More
After reading about all of our top tested picks, check out our shopping guide and answers to your most pressing exercise mat questions from GH fitness experts.
Experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab teamed up with Stefani Sassos who is the deputy Nutrition Lab director and NASM certified personal trainer here at GH to put workout mats to the test. The Textiles Lab tests workout mats in Lab by weighing them, measuring its thickness and rating ease of use. Then, testers tried out each mat to give feedback on grip, floor traction, support, cushioning and more. Experts tested the mats by putting them through workout movements ranging from low-impact exercises like pushups and squats to high-intensity interval workouts featuring burpees and skater lunges. She also gave expert shopping tips to help you find the best mat to keep you supported as you built up a sweat. GH experts tested 19 yoga mats and 11 workout mats with testers logging over 200 hours of workouts to find the best workout mats to buy.
✔️ Activity: First, you must consider what type of workouts you plan on doing on the mat. HIIT workouts require an extra sturdy mat as anything that will move or bunch up can cause a major safety hazard. Lower impact workouts like Pilates or barre still need a sturdy mat, but they can shift a bit more. Some mats are specifically designed to be used barefoot, so if you exercise in sneakers, make sure to choose a mat that’s designed specifically for sneakers to prevent tearing.
✔️ Location: Where the mat will actually go can change which mat is best suited for your workout. If you’re working out on hardwood floors, you’ll need a mat with ample cushioning that won’t slide around. While, if you’re working out on carpet, a thinner mat may work, but it’ll still need to have excellent grip on the carpet.
✔️ Size: Exercise mats are available in a variety of sizes — from under three feet to over seven feet long. Be sure to check the mat’s dimensions before purchasing to ensure you can store it properly. Some mats fold up or roll up for easy storage while others are designed to stay laid out to protect the floors, so make sure you choose a mat suitable for your needs. If you bring your mat to and from the gym, a lightweight mat is a must (an included carrying case or strap is a major bonus too!).
✔️ Thickness: The thickness of a mat directly correlates to how much cushioning it offers. If you have joint sensitivity, a mat with more cushioning can help relieve any discomfort from exercising. Certain foldable mats can also easily create more cushioning at the top for extra support during plank exercises
Yes. Working out without a workout mat, especially on hardwood floors, can put you at risk of injury. A mat provides necessary cushioning to protect your joints as well as traction to keep you stable as you exercise. It also protects your floor and carpet, too.
It's always best to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to ensure the best outcome. Generally, you can clean most exercise mats with a damp washcloth with soap or a disinfectant wipe. While you don’t need to clean a workout mat after every workout, we recommend cleaning a mat regularly to keep it fresh and in great condition.
Yoga mats are typically thinner to keep you grounded with the floor during your flow while workout mats are thicker. However, many styles work perfectly for yoga and other workouts alike. The extra thickness of a workout mat may be beneficial to those with joint sensitivity or who want additional cushioning during yoga practice.
The Good Housekeeping Institute has been testing workout equipment and apparel for years with fiber scientists and fitness experts.
Emma Seymour is a senior textiles product analyst. She’s been at Good Housekeeping for over three years, overseeing Lab and consumer tests for multiple fitness products including yoga mats, walking shoes and workout shoes. With a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design from Cornell University, she has extensive research experience, particularly focused on athletic wear.
Stefani Sassos is the deputy director of the Good Housekeeping Nutrition Lab. She has been working in the fitness industry for the past 10 years, specializing in indoor cycling and strength training. As a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, she uses her expertise and exercise science knowledge to create informed fitness content. Stefani is passionate about constantly varied workout programming and uses workout mats on a daily basis for everything from Pilates and barre to HIIT workouts and cross-training.