Why Horseback Riding Is A Better Workout Than You Think

Getting bored with your standard ho-hum exercise regimen? How about taking a day off from Equinox in favor of a workout of the equine kind?

Whether you are a beginner or experienced, horseback riding is not only going to give your whole body a better workout than you probably imagined, but chances are that a trot out in nature will also be a whole lot more fun and provide you with a greater a sense of serenity compared to your typical trot on the treadmill.

"For the average junior or amateur rider who trains in the saddle at least two to three times per week, riding is a great addition to an exercise program," professional hunter-jumper rider and trainer Melissa Gruber tells People. "Riding is a total body workout. Your legs, arms and core work together to control and communicate with the horses ... That subtle body control takes physical strength and balance very similar to Pilates, yoga or even surfing."

Other reasons why horseback riding is a great workout

Don't let concerns about your experience level or your size prevent you from getting into the saddle — according to Weight Watchers, your riding teacher will match you with the best horse for your ability and body. And there are a number of reasons why it's about time you took the reins.

For instance, horseback riding will actually help you tone your abdominal muscles, and may even be more effective than planks or stomach crunches when it comes to strengthening your core. "Your body position tells the horse where to go, which will tax your core muscles," Lisa Bedient, kid's program supervisor and program coordinator for the Harmony with Horses program at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, tells WW. Riding a horse will also improve your posture since you are activating the muscles in your upper back, and it also improves your coordination because you are constantly using your arms and legs to deliver signals to the horse. And if you're looking to enhance your sense of well-being, there's a good chance that horseback riding will reduce your stress. "Horses have such a calming presence that stress automatically goes to the wayside," Bedient says. 

So consider swapping out your running sneakers for riding boots the next time you're looking to shake up your workout routine. Start with researching stables and instructors that feel like the right fit, so you can feel confident when you're ready to hop into the saddle.