Horse riding help women tone core and lower muscles

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NEWS | Lifestyle

Horse riding affects static and dynamic mechanical contractions on the thighs and trunk muscles of inactive women. 

In a recent study in which 30 women participated, after only eight weeks of riding lessons the participants gained considerable dynamic muscle tone in thighs, hips and torsos. The study took place at Hanseo University’s Research Institute of Sports and Industry Science, in Seosan, South Korea. 

The study was conducted to women who did not have any riding experience (they were learning to ride) and had not engaged in any exercise program during the previous six months. 30 women aged 20 to 23 participated, and researchers measured dynamic muscle tone (during movement) and static muscle tone (without movement). 

Half of the women participated in a 25-minute equestrian exercise program three times per week during 8 weeks. Women were new to riding and they used a riding simulator that included walking, trotting and walk-trot transitions. The other 15 women did not exercise during the eight weeks. However, they had to sit on the motionless simulator for 25 minutes three times a week while watching TV. 

Doubling muscle tone

At the end of the eight weeks, women in the equine riding group had stronger hips, thighs and torsos: in some cases they doubled their previous muscle tone. The group improved the dominant and nondominant hip extensor/flexor, the dominant hip abductor/adductor and the trunk extensor. 

“Equestrian exercise activates the muscles around the thighs and hips and, at the same time, it can be said that the trunk extensor muscles are significantly improved due to the posture that requires straightening and due to the activated muscles around the thighs and hips,” -Yong-Seok Jee, PhD at Hanseo University.

This study is a groundbreaking discovery, and horseback riding is confirmed as a dynamic test but not a static test. According to Jee, longer periods of riding would also presumably lead to improvements in static function. 

You might find interesting: How to cure your anxiety with equine therapy

Benefits of horseback riding

Besides the demonstrated benefits on the trunk, thighs and hips, horseback riding has incredible health benefits for horse riders. Amongst them we include:

  • It reduces stress: Horseback riding allows you to take a break and experience fresh air. Also, spending time with animals and exercising releases a hormone called serotonin. This improves your mood and reduces the stress levels. Likewise, horses relax around humans they know.
  • Improves balance and coordination: You have to keep your balance on the horse when riding, but also when directing the horse in different directions. For advanced riders, balance and coordination are crucial to navigate barrels, fences and other obstacles. 
  • Improves flexibility and circulation: The rhythm of movement of your body when riding a horse promotes healthy circulation and helps you stretch many muscles. This improves flexibility, and your range of motion improves. 
  • Develop problem-solving skills: When riding on a horse you practice your mental health as well, as you have to think on your feet while in the saddle. You develop problem-solving skills as you communicate with your horse to overcome obstacles, and memory, assertiveness and speech are improved in the process as well. 

Moreover, it helps us burn calories, build our core strength and work on specific muscles. When we interact with horses in a riding centre we feel more relaxed and happier. Have you also felt these benefits when riding? Let us know on our social media: we are on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

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