The Benefits of Horse Riding for Your Physical and Mental Health
Taking care of your mind and body should be pretty high on your priority list, but what many people get wrong is that this needs to be a chore or a part of your week that you dread. There are plenty of ways to take care of your health and have fun doing it too. Horseback riding is a great example of a sport that is thoroughly enjoyable whilst also offering a myriad of benefits for all aspects of your health. While you might need to invest in some riding gear and equestrian clothing, what you’ll get out of a hobby like this far outweighs what you’ll need to put in.
Although it may seem like sitting on a horse for a few hours isn’t going to do much for your fitness, it’s a totally different ballgame from sitting on your couch all day. Whilst the horse might be doing the majority of the activity, the sport still requires some hard work on the rider’s part. Horseback riding is a great moderate-intensity exercise that will help you break a bit of a sweat and work your muscles, particularly your core. Building a strong core is not only going to help give you that toned look in your middle area, but it’s also important for your overall strength and health since it had a great impact on your posture. Horseback riding also works your leg muscles, so it’s certainly a good workout.
Depending on the type of riding you’re doing, horse riding can help you burn some fat too. Working up a sweat and tensing your muscles gets your heart rate up and can help you burn fat. The science behind weight loss suggests that being in a calorie deficit is the most important factor to drop pounds, so adding a few horseback riding workouts to burn a few extra calories each week can definitely be beneficial to a weight loss journey.
Balance and Coordination
Keeping yourself upright and steady on a horse that’s moving at a gallop takes far more stability than one might expect. Horse riding trains your balance (which is why your core strength plays such a major role) and will help you steady yourself both in and out of the saddle. Working on your balance will in turn improve your posture and can even help with lower back and shoulder pain.
In terms of coordination, this comes into play when you consider all the different parts of the body which need to be working together to control your horse and keep yourself steadily in the saddle at the same time. Horse riding requires the use of your legs, core and your hands on the reigns to control and guide the horse’s speed, direction and other movements, so it takes a lot of physical and mental coordination from the rider – this sport will train both your body and your brain.
Our brains are an organ just like any other, and taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our hearts or lungs. Like any sport, horse riding is a great form of stress relief and can be paired with other techniques to effectively manage stress and anxiety in your day-to-day life. Having something to focus on, to look forward to and to be constantly seeing improvement and progression is a great way to boost your mental state and self-confidence.
Equine therapy is a proven form of counselling for various kinds of mental health issues, and the companionship of a horse can be beneficial to people of all ages. Building a relationship and bond with a horse can help develop emotional awareness, trust, empathy and security and confidence in oneself. Those who might struggle with social situations might benefit from horse riding by building a strong relationship with a horse that gives them the confidence and courage to socialise more with humans too.
These are just a few of the many benefits you might find in starting a horse riding journey and to top it all off, it’s a load of fun. With various styles and disciplines to choose from, there’s almost guaranteed to be a form of riding that suits you and what you enjoy. If this sounds like something you need, check out a local stable and see what kind of lessons they have on offer – your mind and body will both thank you for it.