For most people, the most common New Year resolution they have is to lose weight and get into shape. For quite a number of individuals, this means a gym membership, a new fad diet or a fitness slash weight loss program. But did you know that horse riding can lose weight and get into shape? Helping you achieve your fitness goals without having to shell out on a gym membership.
Does horse riding make you lose weight? Of course, it does. Like all other exercises, horse riding can help you lose those extra pounds. The thing to note is that when riding, you are not just sitting on the horse, you’re actually moving your body with the horse. Horse riding requires the rider to be agile and swift and also helps improve flexibility. With time, your flexibility levels will improve as your muscles get stretched and you learn the technique of maintaining your balance on the horse, sitting and getting off it with ease.
Horse riding is not just an activity restricted to country visits and vacations. It is also a full-body and mind workout. Horse riding is not just restricted to men only, women can also take control into their own hands and be assured of a stronger and more nimble body. Your love for horse riding can play a huge role in your weight loss regimen to help you get that evenly toned figure you have always wanted.
How Horse Riding Benefits your Health
Horse riding is extremely good for you and your health both physically, and mentally. Nowadays, we are all told we need to eat healthier and exercise more frequently. Eating healthy and exercising more is now described as being the secret to a long life. So how does horse riding help and what are the health benefits of horse riding? Can it really do enough to eradicate the need for boring gym sessions?
From my own experience, I know horse riding has not just kept me in pretty good shape, but it has also provided me with a lot more than just physical fitness. Horse riding has given me an emotional connection, compassion, and peace of mind that non-horsey people will struggle to relate to.
I personally believe horses and horse riding is like an addiction. Once you’ve got the buzz it does become a lifestyle choice. In some ways, it is probably the feel-good hormones that are released when horseriding, hormones such as serotonin and other endorphins.
Research has shown that our relationships with horses go a lot deeper than just the physical bond. Horses are socially intelligent animals so they connect with humans to improve our sense of well being and help the mind.
Health Benefits of Riding a Horse
Riding a horse can help burn over 400 calories an hour and it increases muscle strength without building bulk muscle. I don’t know about you but that is as good a reason as any to take up horse riding. Horse riding provides a combination of cardiovascular exercises and a rewarding mental challenge. The balance of this with hand and eye coordination helps to improve our reflexes. Horse riding also tones the body and in particular, it tones the core muscles and your legs.
It gets you outdoor, into the fresh air which is also good for you and can make you feel better due to seeing and feeling natural light, allowing you to absorb essential Vitamin D. For individuals who are confined to an office 9 am until 5 pm, this must be a blessing.
There isn’t much scientific research or evidence out there for the health benefits of horse riding, so research done by a team of experts helped to research recreational riders and the benefits horse riding has to offer them.
Physical Health Benefits of Horse Riding
It helps to improve your physical fitness: Riding a horse for a minimum of 30 minutes in a week exceeds the government’s recommended minimum level of physical activity.
Horse riding helps to strengthen your muscles by up to 50% without creating bulk.
Horse riding helps in a cardio workout: It gets your adrenaline pumping, your pulse racing and also improves your metabolism. This in effect means that it is a good fat burning exercise. Just one hour of horse riding burns up to 650 calories.
A one-hour light trotting session can burn approximately 450 calories, and a leisurely one hour hack will burn approximately 260 calories. Like all exercise, horse riding can help you lose those extra pounds. After all, when you’re riding you’re not just sitting on the horse, you’re moving your body with the horse.
An hour of horse riding, from grooming to galloping, can burn 216 – 518 calories for a 190lb person, 176 – 563 for a 155lb person. Even just a 15-minute ride can burn around 75 calories. If you ride your horse daily for an entire year, that can reduce up to 27,375 calories or 7.8 pounds of body weight.
Asides from losing weight, horse riding has other benefits as well. Because it’s aerobic exercise, it has cardiovascular, or heart health benefits. It also helps you build muscle strength, especially in your inner thighs and legs, arms and stomach. It’s a great ab workout and as you ride, you’ll also find your posture and balance improving along with increased flexibility.
Improves flexibility: Riding a horse requires the rider to be agile and swift, but with time, your flexibility levels will improve as your muscles get stretched and you learn the ropes of maintaining your balance on the horse, sitting and getting off it with ease.
Horse riding raises stamina levels: To be able to burn 650 calories, you need stamina. Horse riding does not just entail sitting on the horse, your complete body and mind are at work at the same time. Also, one needs to pet the horse, clean it, feed it to bond well with it. All these activities will significantly improve your stamina. Mucking out will also burn approximately 80 calories.
Not to mention grooming, walking to and from the field, the muck heap and sweeping the yard!
Just riding a horse at a walking pace stimulates the internal organs, aiding liver function and digestion.
Faster work, such as jumping or galloping will burn even more calories.
Horse riding uses many muscles, people say it uses muscles they didn’t even know they had, the muscles, in particular, includes the leg muscles, stomach muscles, and shoulder muscles are used.
Improves body balance and co-ordination: Horse riding requires good balance and co-ordination as the rider must listen and be aware of what the horse is doing, and adapt to their own body movement accordingly. Therefore, the muscles and thought processes required to balance on the horse and to ride have been proven to significantly improve core strength, stability, posture and co-ordination and in turn, all these contribute to weight loss.
Tones muscles: Horse riding is great for toning your muscles. When riding, a rider’s muscles relax and contract according to the horse’s movement, and since you need to adapt to your body positioning using small and controlled movements, every single muscle of your body will eventually become naturally toned.
Strengthens your body: Not just toning your muscles, horse riding will strengthen them too. Your arm muscles, back muscles, and leg muscles will be stronger than ever. Though initial soreness is common, then, regular practices will make them stronger. Your glutes too will be in shape due to the constant flexing and tightening action to control the horse’s movement which will eventually bring about weight loss.
Horse Ride for a Happy Mind.
Horse riding can have the same effect an antidepressant has by helping to drop the levels of stress hormones. Horse riding is a natural stimulator for the hormone Serotonin, which is known as a mood enhancer, when this is released we feel a sense of well being and happiness.
Being in a happy mood tends to bring about weight loss, because some individuals eat in excess when sad, in order to take their mind away from what’s bothering them. But when we exercise endorphins are also released which can relieve tension and stress, but there is a lot to be said about the bond between horse and rider that almost offers a spiritual release.
Being outside and in contact with nature, scenery, fresh air, and vitamin D is a great motivation for most riders and it certainly helps us feel better being at one with nature.
Social Benefits of Horse Riding
Horse riding is fun, it is exhilarating and gets the adrenaline and blood pumping. You get to meet lots of new people, whether in the yard or at shows and competitions. Horse riding can lead to demonstrations and other events that get you out and about.
If you want to horse ride for fun or whether you want to compete, there really is something for everyone at any level of experience. Horse Riding really is addictive and once you have experienced a bond with a horse and the joy it can bring there really is no better feeling, I guess it’s like falling in love.
Tips On How Losing Weight Through Horseback Riding.
Change Up Your Riding Style
If you’re an avid equestrian, your body is probably already conditioned to the type of riding you do. The same muscles have been used for so long that there is little effect. You need to step away from your regular riding and push yourself in a new way.
Try standing in the stirrups at the walk or trot, riding a pretend bicycle in the saddle, holding your legs off the saddle for an extended period, sitting on the trot, riding bareback, taking a vaulting lesson.
Even more important than engaging in different exercises is riding with an independent seat. That means having a tight core and staying balanced and stable.
Fuel Your Body
You won’t achieve anything by severely limiting your food intake. If you want to lose weight from riding then you need to prepare your body before you even climb in the saddle.
How much do you eat throughout the day?
Try to eat smaller portions of meals every three to four hours, lean proteins will give you the energy you need both in the saddle and afterward. A protein-filled snack 30 minutes after your ride will keep you charged.
Here Are Some Other Tips.
Try and work out 15-20 minutes before your ride. You’ll warm up your body and get your heart rate up. Everything in the saddle will go toward losing weight.
The best weight loss plan to follow is one that fits your lifestyle, and as a horse lover, what is a better way to lose weight than ride your horse? Once you start, you may feel sore or have wobbly legs, which is common when you start any exercise regimen, but you’ll find that those fades quickly.
Soon you’ll be reaping the weight loss rewards as you become less and less winded and your body becomes more toned and in shape. It’s a great, fun way to keep that New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Riding isn’t the only thing you can do around the barn to slim down. You can get creative. Extra-long grooming sessions, cleaning stalls, sweeping, and jogging with your horse in hand are also great ideas.
Remember, you are dealing with an animal that has a mind of its own, It is important to pet and bond with the horse to be able to get the best experience out of your session.
Yes it is time-consuming and yes you have to be prepared to brave all weathers on a daily basis, but it certainly has provided people with years of joy and happiness.
I truly believe that although horse riding and owning a horse isn’t for everyone as it involves a lot more than just feeding the horse. The benefits of horse riding and interacting with horses could have a really positive effect physically, psychologically and emotionally.