Mat: How to choose the best in 2021?
Today we are going to deal with a multipurpose accessory, but especially important for the practice of physical exercises: the mat.
Used for a variety of situations such as camping, lying down and playing, the mat is a great ally to preserve your body while you do stretching, sit-ups and localized gymnastics.
Nowadays, the variety of mattresses is so vast that it can be difficult to choose the ideal one. Therefore, we will show here what you should take into account before purchasing yours.
First the most important
- The mat needs to be functional, practical and durable to match your purpose of use, protect your spine and prevent injury.
- The mattress used in physical activities has as a differential the material of manufacture, the density of the foam and the thickness.
- For you to buy the ideal mattress, we will show here the characteristics that differentiate one model from another.
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At first glance all mattresses appear to be the same, but they are not. There are numerous variables that differentiate one model from another and it is necessary to understand them in order to acquire the most appropriate one according to its objective.
Therefore, we created this Buying Guide. Here you will find all the information you need to buy the best exercise mat.
What is a mattress?
Every mattress less than 12 cm thick is considered a mattress. Used in countless situations, the mat is more popular in the practice of physical activities, inside or outside the gyms.
In general, the different mattress models are manufactured with very low density foam, to be thin, light and easy to transport.
However, as we will see later in this article, nowadays there are already versions made with high density, keeping the thickness low, which is ideal for heavier exercise practices.
The outer covering is also a characteristic of the mat, which, in general, is made with fabric that is easy to clean and waterproof.
Practical, light and comfortable, the mattress has as main objective to protect your spine, provide thermal insulation avoiding your direct contact with the floor and avoid injuries while you perform physical exercises. In addition, of course, to ensure comfort when practicing.
Not surprisingly, the mat is widely used for the practice of activities that involve sitting or lying on the floor such as sit-ups, stretching, localized gymnastics, yoga, pilates and martial arts.
What are the other uses of the mat?
Faithful squire of athletes and practitioners of physical activities, the mat is an accessory that serves multiple functions. In the countryside, on the beach or even at home, the accessory is a great option to sit on the floor without getting dirty or feeling the cold.
It is also very common to use the mat in the living room, as an extra space to watch TV with friends and family. In addition, mattresses are great complements for the children’s room, where they can play without worry.
The fact is that the mat ensures that children, especially babies, can play and crawl safely, without the risk of injury if they fall to the floor.
The mat is also ideal for taking on trips or, as a last resort, accommodating visitors. However, it is important to remember that precisely because they are much thinner than a mattress, mattresses are not suitable for sleeping every day.
The mattress is versatile and can be used to sit on the floor, play, rest and even sleep in camps.
In addition, nowadays there are also inflatable versions, where the mattresses are filled with air by means of a special pump. This is usually the option for those who like camping, as the mat can be used together with the sleeping bag.
There are other mattresses that work as an extra bed, such as the mattresses for shiatsu, a Japanese therapeutic massage. For lovers of technology and outdoor life, there is already a mat with heating and cooling functions.
Why is the exercise mat important for physical exercise?
You have certainly wondered why you have to use a gym mat to practice the physical exercises that define and shape your body.
Of course, each mat, regardless of color, has its specifications. But, according to experts, generally, the blue mat of the gyms is usually less dense and thicker. That is, this type of mattress is usually softer.
The black mattress is characterized by being more rigid, that is, neither soft nor hard, which is usually recommended for more intense practices.
In general, those who have a body structure with less weight and less height can choose whether they want the mattress softer or more rigid.
Those who are stronger or taller should choose the mattress that is less dense and thicker, which is also generally wider, ensuring greater comfort, balance, flexibility, safety and support.
In addition, experts recommend that you always check with a professional for which exercises each exercise mat is best suited for.
In general, if the exercise involves the legs and hips, the best option is the softer mat, because by rotating the body, you will protect both your spine and the rest of the body.
If the physical exercise chosen involves the arms and spine, it is better to choose the use of the black mattress, the most rigid. Check out the difference between the mattresses used in the gyms below. Remember that when you buy your mat, the color may vary.
What care do you need to take with the mat?
According to experts, hygienic care with gym mats is essential and can even interfere with your physical performance.
The fact is that, when used to practice some physical exercise, the mat becomes a target for sweat. But the good news is that this is a very easy accessory to clean precisely because of its manufacturing material.
Therefore, we recommend that you always clean your mattress at the end of a practice. In the gym, it is worth cleaning the mat before starting the activity.
To do so, just use a cloth with some solution, such as alcohol or water and vinegar, to clean the mat surface.
Sanitizing your mat before and after use is the ideal way to keep the accessory clean and durable for longer.
It is also important that you dry the mat after passing the solution. To do this, you can use one side of the same cloth, which is dry, or leave it in the shade. This is important because physical performance can decrease if the mat is wet.
Keep in mind, however, that the mat should not be washed or filled with water. If this occurs, there may be a proliferation of mites inside the mat, rendering the accessory useless.
We also warn you about the care you must take to avoid tearing or damaging your mat. To do this, avoid using utensils that can pierce the mat and be sure to wear comfortable clothes without a zipper or zip that can also damage the surface of the product.
What are the advantages of the mat?
As we have seen, the mat is a super versatile, practical accessory, easy to transport and store. But, in addition, the great advantage of this product is that it helps you during the practice of physical activities.
With the help of the mat you protect your body from direct contact with the floor, preserving your body temperature.
In addition, due to the thickness and density of the mat, it is possible to protect the spine, neck and other muscles of the body during floor exercises.
Whether at home or at the gym, the mat is extremely useful in performing sit-ups, push-ups, yoga movements, pilates, and also, rehabilitation exercises, being widely used in physiotherapy clinics.
On the other hand, the great disadvantage of the mat is that many manufacturers use low quality foam. That is, not all mattress models available on the market will actually work to protect you from injury during training.
Hence the importance of understanding what factors can determine the quality of a gym mat. We will talk in detail about this subject in Purchasing Criteria.
For an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the mat, check out the table below:
- Decreases impact of physical activity on the soil
- Prevents injuries
- Protects the spine
- Can be used in various situations
- Light and easy to store
- Simple cleaning
- Foam efficiency is not guaranteed by all brands
The price of the mat will vary greatly depending on the size, material of manufacture and thickness. Therefore, you will find the mattress costing between R $ 18 and R $ 800.
Of course, you don’t have to buy the most expensive of all. Just think that the very cheap ones, in general, are less resistant and durable.
Where to buy?
You will find the mat for sale in sports stores, department stores and even hypermarkets
However, our recommendation is that you make your purchase in online stores like Amazon, for example. That way, in addition to finding more options in sizes, colors and materials, you can still purchase your mat in a simple way, without having to leave the house.
Purchasing criteria: What you should consider before choosing the mattress
Now that you have understood the functions and advantages of the mat it is time to choose the best among the different mattress models available.
For this, it is important that you know what are the characteristics that differentiate one type of mattress from another. To help you, we have listed below the main factors you should take into account before purchasing your mat:
In the following, we will explain in detail each of these characteristics so that you can make the best decision when investing in the ideal mat.
The lining of the mat is one of the most important factors that you must observe before buying yours. Here, you must take into account both the outer and inner lining.
The outer coating, as we have seen, must be resistant, easy to clean and waterproof. In addition, the material must be non-stick, which prevents it from slipping even on wet ground.
In general, you will find various mattress models lined with:
- Polyurethane (PU)
All of them are synthetic materials that resemble leather and, therefore, are resistant and impervious to sweat and water. Corino, napa and courvin, for example, are made of 100% PVC and do not have polyurethane.
Bagum consists of a PVC base applied over a braided polyester mesh. Regarding the internal lining of the mat, you will find two options available on the market:
- Expanded polyethylene (PE) foam
- EVA (Ethylene and Vinyl Acetate)
Both internal coatings are efficient in absorbing impacts. However, EVA is usually more durable than PE. In fact, some gyms have used EVA mats a lot due to their great impact absorption capacity.
To ensure your body’s comfort and protection, it is important that you consider the size of the mat.
To give you an idea, a mat considered small, recommended for smaller people and less weight, has the following measures: 40 cm wide and 90 cm long.
For taller people or even larger body structures, the ideal is to opt for a wider and longer mattress measuring, for example: 60 cm wide, 150 cm long.
But it is worth remembering that there are other variations that allow you to find larger or smaller mattresses. Thus, the choice will also depend on the type of exercise you are going to do on the mat.
The density of the foam that covers the mat internally will determine the mat’s ability to support its weight, so that the product does not deform and you have comfort during the exercises.
In general, you will find models of mattresses with density ranging between 20 and 80. Thinner densities, which make the mat softer, in general, are recommended for the practice of simpler exercises and for smaller and lighter weight people.
The higher the density, the more balanced the mat will be. That is, it will be neither too soft nor too hard.
You just need to know that the higher the density, the stronger the mat and the more comfortable it will be for you to practice heavy training on the ground.
It is also important that you analyze the thickness of your mat. Nowadays it is possible to find models whose thickness varies between 2 cm and 12 cm thick.
And don’t think that because it is very thin, the mat will not be effective. The important thing here is that you combine the thickness with the density of the internal foam. A good example are mattresses for professional use that, in general, have density 80, but can reach up to 2 cm thick.
The fact is, the thinner your mat, the easier it will be to transport it to an outdoor area or even to the gym and also the better it will be to store it.