Health & Fitness Benefits of Horse Riding
Is riding a horse good exercise? Anyone who has never ridden a horse would doubtless be shocked to discover the vigorous workout that a few hours in the saddle represents. Even if you have been riding for years you may not have given a great deal of consideration to how your activities are affecting your mind and body.
Horse riding is actually a fabulous way to keep yourself in shape and it is a lot more interesting than spending hour after hour in the gym!
Riders must use specific muscles for balance and control. If you adopt the correct posture and ride regularly you will enhance your core strength. You will be continually squeezing your abductor muscles to stay put in the saddle and you will use your core to protect your spine and to remain upright.
Muscle Tone and Flexibility
Your quads, hamstrings and glutes all support the work of your abductors and power the leg movements that you use to control your horse. Your glutes flex and tighten when you roll your hips down and forward to cue the horse to stop. When your horse changes direction, you're forced to engage the obliques and transverse abdominals to stay upright. Your thighs and pelvic muscles receive an amazing workout which tones your muscles and enhances your flexibility.
Balance and Coordination
Whilst riding you are making constant adjustments to keep upright and to remain in the saddle. The faster your horse moves the harder you have to work. Your balance will naturally improve with so much practice and you will develop better co-ordination as you learn to move in unison with your horse and to maintain control.
Your hands and arms are also moving continually. The actions your make with your arms to control your horse are often performed subconsciously but you are still teaching your body to be better coordinated.
The effort you will expend riding varies according to the type of riding that you are engaged in and the speed at which you are travelling. But even at walking speed, you could burn over 200 calories per hour. When galloping, you will burn up to 650 calories per hour depending on your body weight and general fitness. You generally burn slightly more calories if you weigh more.
At the Stables
As an equestrian, the exercise you receive will not be restricted to the time that you spend in the saddle. Working at the yard and caring for your horse also tones your muscles and burns calories. But be careful to adopt the right posture when you are lifting, otherwise your time at the yard might do you more harm than good.
Learning to ride and improving your skills over time will enhance your confidence. This will influence all aspects of your life, not just your riding. In addition, the time you spend in the saddle can have a wonderfully calming effect and so provides a useful antidote to stress. You will be making mental adjustments continually as you ride and this will help to enhance your mental agility.
There are few aspects of your health and wellbeing that will not receive a boost when you ride. You burn calories, tone your muscles, improve your balance and sharpen your mind when you are riding. If you want to see just how much your hobby is helping you to be healthier, see what happens when you stop!