6 Ways Horse Riding Can Boost Your Health
If you’re an equine enthusiast, we’ve got some good news – saddling up is not only an exciting adventure but a great tool for boosting your health. From improved fitness to enhanced mental clarity, this article explores why horse riding might be the key to a healthier you.
Keep reading to discover the benefits of horse riding and how it can transform your health and well-being…
We’ve touched on some of the benefits of horse riding on sleep, stress, cognitive development and more in a previous blog, but there are more benefits, too.
There’s a reason they call horse riding a sport – it’s not easy to do, there are essential physical skills to learn, and it requires a lot of practice. There’s also plenty of research that suggests additional mental and physical health benefits from horse riding. Let’s explore some of the key benefits…
- It’s a whole-body workout
Most of the physical benefits of horse riding are for your lower muscles, particularly in your legs, thighs and posterior as you need to grip the saddle, adjust your position, and maintain appropriate movement for riding. Lower body muscle strain with horse riding can be more apparent in longer or harder rides or competition, that’s why there are products like gel-padded riding breeches to help relieve some of the impact from your muscles and improve security with enhanced material grip on the saddle.
In addition to your lower muscle workout, the balance required for horse riding gives your core and abs a good workout, so you will likely feel sore from the chest down after a long ride.
All these are called isometric exercises and involve static contraction of the muscles without moving the joints – they’re similar to squats, planks and glute bridges in their efficacy.
Finally, there’s the other exercise associated with horse riding and ownership – namely the grooming and mucking out. Both use repetitive motions, which use your arm, back and core muscles, so if you ride, groom, and muck out all in a day, you’ll likely get a good full-body workout. A study by the British Horse Society (BHS) in conjunction with the University of Brighton found that “Horse riding and activities associated with horse riding, such as mucking out, expend sufficient energy to be classed as moderate intensity exercise.”.
So horse care and riding can be a workout for the whole body, and you can find other supportive exercises to help improve your fitness outside of horse riding in our other blog: Be Stronger and Safer in the Saddle.
- It’s great for your mental health
The same study from the BHS also found significant mental benefits to owning a horse and riding. The main ones are how it can:
- Stimulate positive thoughts.
- Improve motivation.
- Put you in touch with nature.
- It releases endorphins
The endorphins released after physical exercise react with your brain receptors to generate feelings of relaxation and happiness – much like a runner’s high and why you never regret going for that gym session.
- You can interact with Animals and Nature
Working with animals can be very therapeutic, and running free and fast in nature can encourage feelings of escapism. Furthermore, just being with animals and enjoying the repetitive motions of grooming can calm your mind significantly as it helps you focus on simple motions and block out the noise in your mind. It’s almost meditative.
- You’ll become more confident and settles
Practising horse riding and becoming more confident and proficient in the skills required often helps you become more comfortable in your surroundings and with the people around you in the same environment. You’ll be more likely to ask for or offer advice, more tempted to interact with other riders and equestrians, and more settled in your new sport.
- It can improve your social skills
Horse riding and horse ownership is an expensive sport and hobby to get into – it’s rarely a passing phase, and the other equestrians around you will likely be as enthusiastic or more so than you, so it’s incredibly likely you’ll make friends and widen your social circle.
So, as expected, horse riding is an excellent workout for your mind, body and soul in many ways, so don’t be afraid to ride more, get stuck in with the grooming or mucking out, and interact with your fellow equestrians. Before you know it, you’ll be looking and feeling better than before.