Fitness, Health, Horses

Cantering Out The Crazies: Exercise For Mental Health

Spring is a wild time for everyone, horses and humans included.  After a winter of being cooped up in the barn or house, most of us have one of two problems:  We’re either raring to go…or we’re not.

Fargo is dealing with the first problem.  This afternoon, after a long day of wind and sunshine, he was feeling good.  As I was letting his pasture mate/girlfriend, Evelyn, back in the pasture, I was stunned at the black and white blur that bolted past me.  So stunned, in fact, that I could only stand slack-jawed as two horse butts disappeared down the driveway.

Fortunately, I knew where they would be.  Sure enough, I found the two escapees half a mile up the road, outside their old barn.

Now is probably the time I should admit I definitely haven’t been dealing with an energy overdose.  But after two half-mile jogs with the horses, my energy levels surprisingly jumped for the rest of the day.  Not to mention that after the initial shock wore off, my mood was pleasingly better than before.

It’s no coincidence.  Exercise has been proven to improve your mood as well as help control crazy horses.  In many cases, it works better than antidepressants, and horse experts recommend exercise over calming supplements any day.

It’s common knowledge that when your heart gets pumping good and hard, your body releases endorphins, which reduce pain and cause a euphoric feeling.  But it doesn’t end there.  Regular exercise also, naturally, supports good sleep habits.  And when you make a routine workout and stick to it, you’re bound to gain some fitness and with it, new self-confidence.  Add that all up, stir in some spring sunshine, and you have a recipe for joy that will last year-round!

What is the best exercise for mental health?  While any physical activity is beneficial, many scientists believe that jogging at a moderate pace is perfect for pushing through stress and building muscle.  Better yet, any equestrian can take their horse jogging with them.

So the next time you find yourself feeling down or your horse acting up, don’t rely on outside sources to help you.  Grab some jogging shoes and/or a lead rope and hit the trails on foot!

Stay happy and healthy!




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