Dr. Naomi Betesh, DO, reports that horse handling is health-promoting exercise, reports HorseChannel.com. This is partially due to the intensity of exercise that horse-handling generates.
Exercise intensity is measured by METS, says Betesh. Moderate exercise intensity comes in between 3 and 6 METS. Grooming and tacking up a horse registers at 3.5 METS; a walking trail ride is 3.7 METS. When riders trot, their MET becomes a 5. For comparison, walking 2.5 miles per hour is 3 METS, and riding a bike at 10 miles per hour is 4 METS, Betesh explains.
“So caring for a horse and horseback riding are good ways to get moderate-intensity exercise,” she says. In addition to physical benefits, there are mental benefits, as well, she explains.
During exercise, the body releases endorphins, chemicals that trigger a positive feeling in the brain. As a result, according to a survey that studied the effect of horseback riding, 80 percent of equestrians reported feeling relaxed, happy and active after riding their horses, reports HorseChannel.
Betesh also said that researchers found that the psychological benefits were not tied to how often riders rode; riders could get the mental benefits just from being around horses.
Researchers also found that the happiness riders experience ranks above many physiological benefits of the sport, Betesh says. Riders in the study rated interaction with their horses as their motivation to ride, not improving fitness or weight loss. Instead, time in the saddle was important for personal development and relaxation, said Betesh.
Read more at HorseChannel.
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