There is NO question that I love to ride. It is my primary sport and one in which I am always pursuing excellence. To be truly excellent at riding (or any sport) requires a commitment to cross-training. A strong fitness foundation will include training that focuses on strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiorespiratory fitness.
The benefits of cardiorespiratory fitness include developing a stronger and more efficient heart. A strong heart not only improves performance but also reduces the risk of heart disease. Research confirms that one’s cardiorespiratory fitness has a direct correlation to and is a predictor of morbidity and mortality.† To put it simply, if you sit on the sofa, you increase your chances of a premature death.
Cardiorespiratory Fitness will also improve mental alertness (a must if you have a young gelding in the spring), improves lean muscle mass (a plus when stacking hay for winter) and reduces the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Because riding is not a sport known to have a great impact in cardiorespiratory fitness, I recommend all riders and anyone interested in avoiding premature death (my guess it that covers…everyone) add cardio training to a weekly program. In order to truly benefit from cardiorespiratory training, one should invest about 30-60 minutes a day 3-5 times a week, depending on the intensity of the training. Examples of suitable activities include running, jogging, walking, swimming, cycling and using your gym’s cardio equipment. Beachbody also offers several home workouts that include cardiorespiratory training.
If you want to make your cardio fitness a team activity, bring a horse along for the walk so he can benefit from cardio training as well! Not to mention the time together will be a positive investment in your relationship. Taking a well-mannered young horse for a trail walk is also great way to expose him to new sights and sounds with you safely by his side.
This year I decided to add a little kick to my cardiorespiratory fitness training. I have committed to run in the 2014 Trail Series offered by Mountain Goat Adventures. Two summers ago I ran in the short course trail series and it was SO much fun that I committed to the long course for this year. I will be competing in my very first half marathon in June 2014. If you are in or around Georgia and have any interest in trail running or mountain biking, check out Mountain Goat Adventures. The competitions are run with style and efficiency and always offer great “swag.” And if the photo below looks familiar then I know my horse show friends would feel right at home!
†NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, ©2014, p.202