If you're looking to get into shape this season, riding might just be the perfect workout for you.
Over the years, research has proven that horse riding gives you significant health benefits, as well as a day full of fun. Whether you are an experienced rider or a beginner, riding horses benefits you both physically and psychologically, so here are six reasons why you should take up this sport over autumn, by taking part in Ride Out UK.
1. Burning those calories
Riding a horse can provide a good level of cardiovascular exercise. The BHS commissioned a study which found that just half an hour of horse related activity, such as mucking out, is classed as moderate exercise, while trotting can burn up to 600 calories per ride!
You even burn calories when you're back in the yard, whether you're grooming, moving hay bales, lifting saddles onto the back of a horse, or carrying buckets. Studies have proven this can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by up 35%.
2. Let's get physical
Stay in shape, by staying balanced to keep you from bouncing around in the saddle while you ride; you'll primarily use your core muscles.
In addition to the core, you'll get a good workout in your inner thighs and pelvic muscles.
This is down to the importance of maintaining a good posture and position, adjusting to the horse's gait to help both you and your horse keep a well-maintained balance.
This helps improve your balance and coordination, works on improving your muscle tone and your level of flexibility.
3. Mental state
BBC reports that mental health illnesses have more than doubled over the past two years. According to Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and 1 in 6 people in the UK alone report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.
In addition to improving our physical health and giving us more energy, being active can also improve our mood, reduce stress and anxiety.
Horse riding has been proven to help self-confidence; riders may gain an increase in self-esteem and self-image. The study completed by The BHS concluded that horseback riding stimulated mainly positive psychological feelings, with reducing depression by 30% as well as lowering the chance of dementia by 30%.
The equestrian industry is a very social community full of people who will help each other and help care for other horses, building lifelong relationships. Riding is such a social event. We spend so much time at the yard, whether looking after your own horse or caring for a friend's; and then there's the shows, trail rides, riding lessons and local clubs. Riding is a way of life, and you easily become immersed in the world of the equine industry.
Riding can also be seen as very therapeutic, which has given riders improved interpersonal skills and socialisation skills.
Horses make wonderful companion animal, that's why you'll find many equestrians call horses their best friends.
Communicating and interacting with animals has already been shown to have a positive effect on people, and is widely used in therapeutic riding programs.
One of the main reasons for going horseback riding is that riders wish to interact with horses, as they have been found to be extremely sociable.
6. New Challenges
Horses are full of surprises and never fail to challenge us. There are always new challenges whether you're an experienced rider or a newbie just starting to learn how to ride. Learning new skills such as: Dressage or Showjumping and riding a horse with a certain personality can always put our knowledge and skill techniques to the test.
Take advantage of these health benefits by increasing the amount you ride. A great place to start is by taking part in The BHS Ride Out UK campaign. Challenge yourself to cover 70km over the campaign, or make new friends and explore a new area as part of a local Organised Ride. Want to get into horse riding? If you have not tried riding before, the best place to start is with one of our BHS Approved Centres - You'll receive all the training and support you need to start enjoying a sport you're interested in.
Can't find a ride in your local area? Speak to a BHS Regional Manager
All riding research was undertaken by the University of Brighton and Plumpton College on behalf of The British Horse Society and is available to view here.