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Find out the top five health benefits of horse riding and why it’s not just the horse that does all the work.
Horse riding seems like great fun. It’s not hard to see why people fall in love with it. But as you’ve no doubt heard from teasing friends, the horse does all the work right? It can’t be that good for your health and fitness as the passenger. Well here are the facts you need to prove doubters wrong!
It’s official – horse riding is good for your health. The British Horse Society (BHS) commissioned a study recently and found that horse riding meets the exercise intensity guidelines laid down by the government. A spell of trotting burns more calories than playing badminton and a jumping session could burn up to 600 calories. Half an hour of mucking out is classified as moderate exercise. And as we know, there are plenty more horse related jobs like that to burn off the Sunday lunch! You can read more about the intensity of the exercise.
Horse owners always say that seeing and riding their horses keeps them calm. And it’s been proven. Spending time with animals raises the levels of serotonin in your brain which puts you in a better mood and can help relieve stress and anxiety. In the BHS report, 4 in every 5 people noticed a positive change to their mood after riding.
Horses have even been used as therapy for autistic children to help them learn to communicate. Riding and being with horses can help children to build an emotional bond with the horse, which helps them to improve their social skills with people. Other therapy centres use horses to help ex-soldiers get over Post traumatic stress disorder for example. So when you feel better after your ride, there’s a very good reason.
To stay balanced on top of a horse you need to use your core muscles, so these get stronger as a consequence. You’ll probably notice that your posture has improved when you’re out of the saddle too. Many competitive riders find that Pilates – another great exercise for your core – complements their riding too, as core muscles are so important.
Riding gets you out into the fresh air which is great for starters. But there’s more. By giving you a whole body workout, using your back, arms and core, you need to breathe more deeply to get the oxygen to these muscles. Regulating your breathing helps you to control the horse too. Your horse riding instructor may say to you “don’t hold your breath!”. Breathing slowly and deeply can help you to feel calm, relax into the saddle and also to calm the horse. It’s like magic.
As flight animals, horses react at lightning speed. A spooky horse spinning round at the sight of a paper bag in the road certainly tests your stickability! And this control and coordination needed to control a horse, really quickens your reactions which is good for your health.
So now you know there are so many health benefits to horse riding, you needn’t feel guilty about being out of the house for hours doing your favourite hobby!
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