Horse riding might seem (to the non-rider) as an easy past time that doesn’t require much effort. But the strenuous nature of the exercise means that it has lots of health benefits.
This article looks at what some of these benefits are and even provides an infographic that you can download and pin up to remind everyone else what hard work you are doing.
Physical Health Benefits
Like most active sports horse-riding increases the heart rate and strengthens your cardiovascular system. This causes blood and oxygen to be pumped quicker around your entire body, replenishing sugars and food to the body’s cells.
As the blood is moved around quicker this reduces the amount of lactate or lactic acid that builds up in the muscle cells, which can cause muscle cramps if too much develops. Horse riding also actively uses calf muscles and stretches them, as opposed to most sports such as running, which tend to shorten the muscle.
It also stimulates the digestive system including the liver, so that food is processed and again reaches cells quicker and more efficiently.
One thing that is important to riding is core body strength, and this also improves posture and the position of the spine.
So the main physical health benefits are;
- Cardiovascular system
- Stimulates internal organs and the digestive system
- Improves posture
- Prevents muscle cramps
However these aren’t the only health benefits since the increase in heart rate means that calories are being burnt off quicker than usual as well.
Horse Riding Burns Calories – lots of them
And it’s not just horse riding that burns calories, all those other tasks around the yard including grooming and mucking out – they all burn calories too.
How many? well here’s a sample;
- Grooming a horse – 30 minutes = 218 calories
- Mucking out – 30 minutes = 228 calories
That’s actually more than riding (which is why it is important to do all those groom chores yourself)
- Riding in trot – 30 minutes = 175 calories
- Riding in canter – 30 minutes = 226 calories
So for an hours riding lesson (30 minutes trot / 30 minutes canter) and then including grooming/ mucking out (30 minutes total) the complete total calorie burnout is 620 calories.
So that has to beat a night out at the gym anyway and you won’t feel as guilty when you tuck into your dessert at night.
Mental Health Benefits
But the benefits don’t stop at purely the physical, there are many mental health and emotional benefits to horse riding too.
Horse riding is about a special bond that develops between a horse and a rider, and since horses pick up on our moods then it is also a great way to practice lowering our heart rate and passing on the calmness to our horse.
There is a feel good factor to riding because the hormone serotonin is released, giving us the same sensation as a runner’s high.
The combination of all these things gives an overall sense of well being which is good for improving our mental health condition.
Health Benefits of Horse Riding Infographic
All of the points mentioned in the article so far and more, have been summarised below in this infographic.
So please feel free to share it wherever you want, either by sharing the post or by using the embed code at the bottom for the infographic itself and acknowledging equineblogireland.com as the source, thanks.