If you’re looking for a non-traditional way to strengthen your core, horseback riding may be just the exercise you need.
“Horseback riding really works the core muscles that stabilize the trunk: the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles,” explains Alison Stout, DO . “It’s not just about the strength of the core, but the coordination and stability of it as well. The more you ride, the more the body learns to move with the horse. Horseback riding is a great way to exercise different parts of the body,” she says. “And it can be challenging and calming at the same time.”
- Core Strength: “Horseback riding is an isometric exercise, which means it uses specific muscles to stay in certain positions, in this case, keeping balanced on the horse,” Dr. Stout explains. “As a result, postural strength becomes very important in horseback riding.”
- Balance and Coordination: “Staying balanced becomes more challenging the faster and more quickly the horse moves,” she says. Cantering or galloping and jumping, for example, are much more difficult than a simple jog or trot. The rider must develop coordination skills to move the body with the horse in order to help the horse stay balanced.
- Muscle Tone and Flexibility: Along with the core muscles, the inner thighs and pelvic muscles get the biggest workout as a rider positions himself or herself. This exercise helps with good overall muscle tone and flexibility. In fact, Dr. Stout says the muscle strengthening can be as effective as a typical weight-bearing exercise. The arms and shoulders get a workout as well as they have to constantly gently communicate with the horse’s mouth, similar to dancing with a partner.
- Cardiovascular Exercise: Depending on the type of riding and the speed and agility of the horse, horseback riding can require more effort, energy, and cardiovascular capacity.