Hack your way to bet­ter health

We meet one #Hack­1000miler who’s liv­ing proof you can

Your Horse (UK) - - Contents -

UN­LESS YOU’RE SU­PER­HU­MAN, the pres­sures of daily life can be­come over­whelm­ing. Work, health and fam­ily can bring a whole host of chal­lenges your way and, if you’ve ever felt like you just need a break, be as­sured you’re not alone. The good news is that be­ing with horses and hack­ing in the coun­try­side can help. In fact, re­search in­di­cates that ex­er­cis­ing out­doors can give your men­tal health and self-es­teem a handy boost. Some­times called ‘green ex­er­cise’, this type of ex­er­cise can in­clude any­thing from walk­ing and run­ning out­doors to rid­ing.

Re­duce your stress hor­mone

“Be­ing ac­tive is re­ally im­por­tant for both phys­i­cal and men­tal health,” says Lucy Lyus, in­for­ma­tion man­ager at the char­ity, Mind. “Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity boosts our mood and im­proves men­tal well-be­ing. It also helps us to switch off from ev­ery­day pres­sures, re­lieves stress and gives us time to clear our heads. “When you ex­er­cise, you re­lease ‘feel‘fee good’ hor­mones called en­dor­phins, which help re­duce neg­a­tive feel­ings and im­prove your mood. Ex­er­cise rcise also re­duces lev­els of cor­ti­sol, the ‘stress hor­mone’, which has been linked to a range of men­tal health prob­lems, in­clud­ing de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.” As Lucy ex­plains, ex­er­cis­ing in the great out­doors has been shown to be par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial be­cause the com­bined mix of colours, sounds and smells act to­gether to stim­u­late our senses and our over­all well-be­ing. She adds: “Re­search shows that out­door ex­er­cise can be as ef­fec­tive for some peo­ple as an­tide­pres­sants in treat­ing mild to mod­er­ate de­pres­sion, and should be one of the first in­ter­ven­tions rec­om­mended.”

Rid­ing as treat­ment

One Your Horse reader, Louise May­nard, who suf­fers from PTSD, anx­i­ety and se­vere de­pres­sion, agrees. “My doc­tor has said I’m the first pa­tient to be ‘pre­scribed’ horse rid­ing,” she says. “#Hack­1000miles has come just at the right time for my re­cov­ery. On days that I am un­mo­ti­vated to push for­ward, I look at my chart and it gives me a fo­cus and an achiev­able goal, which is roughly 20 miles a week. “On days ys that I feel over­whelmed byb the ill­ness, I have sup­port from my fam­ily to help me through and I have­hav come to ac­cept that I have these days.day Hav­ing a re­al­is­tic goal re­ally helps with the sense of achieve­ment and I love be­ing part of it and be­ing in­spired by others on the Face­book group. I be­lieve the power of horses can help to get you through, help you to cope and just help you to feel alive on a good day.” So, if you’re hav­ing a bad day, or feel as though you’re stuck in a string of bad days, head to the yard and let your horse give you a boost. You can also hop on­line and soak up the sup­port of other #Hack­1000mil­ers in the #Hack­1000miles Face­book group. Af­ter all, us horsey folk have our own spe­cial com­mu­nity and you’re part of it. To read more about Louise and her story, visit www.hack­1000miles.co.uk and for more about the ben­e­fits of sports on men­tal health, visit www.mind.org.uk/sport

Louise loves the way be­ing with horses makes her feel

Hack­ing 20 miles each week is Louise’s goal

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