The British Horse Society (BHS) urges GPs to recommend horse riding as a way for patients to meet the recommended exercise targets.
The bid comes as Public Health England (PHE) last week published guidance on how to keep adults active. People in the UK are around 20% less inactive now, than they were in the 1960s. One in four women and one in five men are classed as physically inactive, meaning they are doing less than 30 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
The health benefits of riding are proven in a study commissioned on behalf of the BHS. The report found that just half an hour of horse related activity, such as mucking out, is classed as moderate exercise, whilst trotting exerts more energy than playing badminton.
Not only should able-bodied people consider riding, but it is also suitable for those with long-standing illnesses or disability. Those who took part in the survey could complete the same level activity as those without an illness or disability.
The report showed the psychological benefits of interaction with horses, with 80% of participants noticing a positive change in mood after riding. Companionship with horses can also be a motivation to get outside and start exercising.
A BHS spokesperson said: “We really hope that more people consider taking up horse riding, or if they’re not ready to jump onto a horse just yet, to consider volunteering at their local yard or stable. Not only are there health benefits, but it’s a great way to get outside and meet new people”.
To find out more, or to find a place to ride near you, visit the BHS website