Trotting Toward Physical Fitness
Horseback riding may be one answer to fighting obesity. Graduate student Colleen O’Reilly ’14 and Dennis Sigler ’81, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horse specialist and a professor in the Department of Animal Science, studied the amount of energy expended during high-intensity horseback activity and found that riding for 45 minutes at a walk, trot and canter can burn up to 200 calories.
Even more significant, riders engaged in higher energy expenditure activities like cutting and reining experience faster heart rates in short duration, burning up to seven calories per minute.
“For people with joints that just can’t stand a jog, horseback riding may be the solution,” said Sigler. “It’s a great alternative for those who can’t endure other physical activities and could be an excellent way to fight obesity in children and adults.”
Sigler’s study included 20 individuals who completed three riding tests: a 45-minute walk-trot-canter ride, a reining pattern and a cutting pattern. O’Reilly and Sigler measured heart rate, respiratory frequency, pulmonary ventilation, oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production to calculate the energy the riders expended.