During these strange times, I think we can all agree that it’s important to stay active. Whether you’re an essential worker or not leaving the house, it’s healthy both physically and mentally to have some form of exercise. Many riders are now temporarily separated from their horses and so are unable to keep themselves conditioned to ride the way they usually would—by riding! Fortunately, there are many things you can do at home to keep yourself in shape to ride.
Stretch! Stretching can get boring for some people (myself included), but staying limber now will save you a lot of trouble when it’s time to get back to riding; you could even end up improving your flexibility. There are so many stretches out there to do: arm circles, shoulder stretches, various leg stretches…the possibilities are nearly endless. Significant stretches for riders include hip flexors and back stretches. Here is a short video with some great stretches specifically for riders. Yoga is also a good way to limber up.
Walk or run (weather permitting!). I’m not much of a runner myself, but I do enjoy walking. Either one of these is great for riders because they get you moving and get your heart pumping. Even if it’s as simple as walking a few blocks around your neighborhood, something is better than nothing. You can even use a treadmill if you have one. There are apps that will track your steps and miles walked, and some will even map out your route.
Cardio activities besides running and walking. There are a lot of options for cardio, even though the gyms are closed right now (at least in Michigan). App stores are full of apps for things as simple as basic workouts and calisthenics all the way up to tailored fitness programs (and yes, there are free options). Try to get creative. Any movement is good movement!
A little bit of weight training, even just bodyweight exercises, can help keep you conditioned for riding. Regardless of how much weight you can handle at first—no one expects you to be using Arnold Schwarzenegger-sized weights—a few small exercises can go a long way. Start small and build up your strength.
If you’re one of many riders who are stuck at home with time to spare, doing these activities and exercises will really help you maintain your conditioning—you could even end up in better riding shape than before coronavirus came into the picture! Again, I encourage you to visit the app store of whatever operating system you use. They have become a wealth of resources and information for maintaining condition and staying in shape. There’s an app out there for everything! Take advantage of the time you have so you’ll be ready to go when it’s finally safe to do so. In the meantime, exercise, be well, and stay healthy!