Horseback Riding -- Another Way To Get Low-Impact Exercise And Related Health Benefits

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Getting exercise in a way that's enjoyable to you means you're more likely to actually exercise rather than making excuses to skip it, which is important because the majority of Americans don't exercise as much as they should. Only about 22 percent of Americans meet the recommended activity levels for both muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One potential method of exercising that many people don't think about is horseback riding.

Exercise Benefits of Horseback Riding

You might think that the horse is getting all of the exercise when horseback riding, but this actually isn't the case. People can burn as much as 200 calories during a 45-minute riding session during which they walk, trot, and canter. They can burn even more calories if they are reining and cutting during their ride. Even better, horseback riding is often an option for those who have joint issues when doing certain other types of exercises like jogging or high-impact aerobics. Caring for the horse before and after riding, including cleaning out the stalls, moving hay, grooming the horse, and lifting saddles is also good exercise and helps build strong muscles. Overall, you'll build core and muscle strength and become more flexible and coordinated.

Psychological Benefits of Horseback Riding

Being around horses tends to be calming and help improve people's moods. One study showed that as many as 80 percent of people feel more relaxed or happy when riding horses, and it can also improve self-esteem as people become more confident riders. Because horses are also very empathetic, they are used in a number of different types of therapies, potentially helping soldiers with PTSD, kids with ADHD or autism, and people with depression or anxiety.

Safety Considerations

Just be sure to wear a helmet. People die from getting thrown from a horse without wearing a helmet, but properly fitted, safety-approved horse riding helmets greatly reduce the risk of head injuries. With horseback riding falls, the head is often the first part of the body to come into contact with the ground, making head injuries a major risk. People who fall off when horseback riding who aren't wearing helmets are four times as likely to die than those wearing helmets. Head injuries are responsible for about 60 percent of horseback-related deaths, so it's important to take the proper precautions to minimize the risk of these types of injuries, including wearing helmets. You can look at helmets from EQU Lifestyle Boutique to get an idea of what you would like if you take up riding.