Horseback Riding- a Healthy Pastime

Horseback riding is often considered a fun, relaxing activity or a necessary part of people’s daily routines. People don’t always realize, however, that horseback riding can be a very effective exercise. No, the horse is not the only one who is working hard when you are riding- in fact, the health benefits of riding are so extraordinary that a Japanese company invented an exercise machine which simulates the motions of a horse.

Horseback riding strengthens the core muscles in a unique way, and the trunk and limb muscles are used to maintain balance throughout the entire ride. Back, thigh, arm and stomach muscles are also toned while controlling balance as well as directing the horse on the ride. Posture can be greatly improved by riding, as the correct riding position is one of shoulders held back and a straight spine. Your joints can also benefit if used correctly during this activity. Six calories are burned per minute while merely riding at a walking pace. At a canter pace, riding can help oxygenate the blood, extend breathing, improve circulation and heighten metabolism speed. Grooming the horse leads to toned arms and better balance as well.

Horseback riding is also often used as a therapy for people with disabilities. Balance, coordination, spatial awareness and general motor development are greatly improved, and, while being in control of something other than himself, the rider learns to be more sensitive to his surroundings and to react faster. Building a consistent relationship with a horse through riding and grooming can also teach people of trust and loyalty.

In general, the exposure to fresh air is beneficial to a person’s health, too. Studies have shown that regular outdoor activities and exposure to animals can boost the immune system and improve moods.