The Fitness Guide

Rosie Gomez's Guide to Getting Fit!


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Saddle Up: Why Horseback Riding Is Great Exercise

riding a horseAlmost everyone has ridden a horse at some point in their lives, whether it was a trail ride during a mountain vacation, hopping on a friend’s horse during a visit, or a riding lesson at a local barn. Almost everyone is familiar with the day after that horse ride, as well: the aching thighs, the sore abdominal muscles, and the stiff back and shoulders.

Many people might eschew horseback riding as a serious workout. Those same people might think that the horse does all the work while the rider is just, well, along for the ride. This could not be further from the truth. Horseback riding requires serious muscle control, balance, and coordination in order to stay on the horse’s back and maintain control.

If you’re a horse lover and would like a new and unique way to work out, learn more about the incredible physical benefits of a day in the saddle.

Strength

Staying atop a 1,200 pound animal and making it go where you want it to go is no easy feat. It requires incredible balance and muscle control at all times, the likes of which some athletes didn’t even know they had.

To maintain the proper position in the saddle the rider must engage the entire lower body. Abs, hips, glutes, thighs, and calves must all work together to ensure that the rider stays in place even if the horse has other ideas.

Add activities like jumping or barrel racing to the mix and the workout becomes even more intense.

horseback riding is funFlexibility

Moving with a horse instead of against it is one of the cardinal rules of riding, and it has the added benefit of increased flexibility for the rider. Stretching and flexing while riding comes naturally after a while, but for the beginner it can be as intense as some yoga workouts.

Stretching before you climb aboard is key to prevent muscle soreness, but stretching while in the saddle helps as well. Many trainers will ask that their students perform specific stretches while they are warming their horses up at the beginning of a lesson.

Cardio

One of the best health benefits of horse riding is the cardio workout that you’ll receive. Wear your heart rate monitor during your next lesson and you’ll be convinced. Holding your muscles in place while bending and stretching for an hour is an intense workout. Kick your feet out of the stirrups or ride bareback for an even bigger cardio blast.

Don’t end your day when your lesson is done; helping in the barn is a great cardio workout as well. Cleaning stalls, carrying hay and sacks of grain, cleaning saddles and bridles, and thoroughly grooming the horses will get your heart and lungs pumping, as well.

If you’re looking for a fun and different way to work out then you should definitely consider horseback riding, but don’t expect it to be easy. Learning to ride a horse requires hours of practice and hard work, and a great deal of physical effort. However, the reward not only lies in toned muscles. You’ll also get to connect with a magnificent animal and learn a fun and rewarding skill.


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Child’s Play: 5 Ways to Have More Active Kids

children exercisingIt’s no secret that obesity is an epidemic in the United States, but perhaps the most frightening aspect of that statement is how it applies to children and teens. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control now states that at least 1 in 3 children and teens in the U.S. is overweight or obese.

The causes of this epidemic are many, but the main culprits are a more sedentary lifestyle and diets consisting of more processed foods. There are many other contributing factors, however, and for each family struggling with obesity their issues are unique and personal. Unfortunately, the fact remains that the health and physical fitness of children in the United States is poor, and that needs to change.

If you want to make some changes in your family’s lifestyle and exercise habits, and give your kids the gift of health in the process, read on to learn more about great ways to encourage physical activity in your kids.

Get the Gadgets

If you’re going to restrict your child’s computer time in favor of exercise then you might want to sweeten the deal. Apps for smart phones can encourage your kids to keep track of their fitness level, and they can share their progress with their friends on social media.

You can also consider a video game system that comes with exercise and fitness games. These can encourage your kids to get moving and you can join the fun, too.

Take a Class

girl horseback riding

Fitness classes for kids and teens are popping up at gyms all across the country, so take advantage of these opportunities. Yoga, spinning, and parkour can all inspire your kids to get moving and have fun in the process.

Other classes and lessons that might interest your kids are horseback riding, snowboarding, or cross country skiing. Find out what your child is interested in and make it happen.

Do Chores Together

We all know that it’s almost impossible to get kids to do chores without a fair amount of complaining, but there are ways to make it more fun. Arrange a race to see who can bring all of the laundry downstairs in the least time. Practice squats with your kids when you’re unloading the dishwasher. There are a number of ways to encourage your kids to help with chores and move more in the process.

Ditch the Car

If you live in an urban or suburban area, why not ditch your car sometimes? Take your kids along for a walk to the grocery store, and burn some calories carrying your groceries home. If your child’s school is nearby and you have the time, then walk with them to school and walk to pick them up. Not only does walking together burn calories but it also gives you a chance to talk with each other with no distractions.

Explore the Science

While some younger children might not understand the science and the health risks of obesity, your tweens and teens very much can. Make an appointment with your doctor so that he or she can explain some of the serious complications that can arise from obesity.

Encourage your child to do independent research, as well. The more they know about their condition the more active they might become in changing it.

Obesity in children is a serious medical condition, but it’s one that can be changed. Work with your healthcare provider and your kids to become a healthier and happier family.