Remember, it's always a good idea to get your blood flowing and warm up your muscles before
doing any kind of exercise, including riding. So take a walk around the block, run up and down a
stairway, or jog in place.
The exercises presented below focus on improving muscle strength and endurance, but this is only
part of true fitness. Your cardiovascular system also needs to be maintained and strengthened.
Walking several times a week, running, or using a treadmill or exercise bike are all excellent
options. Do, however, get your physician's approval before beginning any physical conditioning.
The following stretches can be done after five minutes of aerobic activity, just before class at the
barn. To keep strain off your back, place your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees slightly, and
hold in your abdominal muscles. Repeat each of the following four times before moving on to the
next, holding each move for a count of ten.
Reach way up over your head with both hands. Reach higher with the left hand, then the right.
With arms stretched out on either side, twist gently left, then right. With hands on hips, bend
sideways to the left, then to the right. With hands on hips, bend forward from the waist, then
backward as far as you comfortably can.
Stand on a step with the balls of your feet on the edge. Grab a hand rail or balance yourself against
a wall. Gently let your heels drop below the balls of your feet, hold for two seconds, slowly lift up for
two seconds, and lower for two. Repeat five times initially. Do more as you're able.
Modified Leg Lunge
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Take one step forward with your right foot. Bend
both knees until the left knee is about one foot off the floor, then slowly rise and bring the left leg
forward. When bending, keep your knee even with or behind the toes of the forward foot. Repeat
the exercise with your left foot forward. Do three repetitions on each leg at first and gradually build
Back and Abdominals Strengthener
Lie down on your back. Straighten one leg and bend the other at the knee. With elbows bent, put
your hands behind your head and rest your fingers gently there. (Don't pull on your head).
Tilt your pelvis so your lower back stays on the floor. Simultaneously lift your straight leg about
eight inches and your upper body a few inches off the floor. Keep your elbows back, out of your
peripheral vision, and your chin off you chest. Lower your upper body and foot to the floor
simultaneously, lift up again, and then lie back. Repeat for the other leg.
This is a difficult type of sit-up, so only do a few repetitions the first time. Don't do it at all if it causes
you pain anywhere. Gradually build up your stamina for this exercise.
Inner Thigh Strengthener
Lie on your left side on the floor, with your left arm under your left ear and fully extended. Place
your right hand on the floor in front of you. Bend your right knee until it also touches the floor in
front of you. Lift your left foot (from the bottom leg), hold this position for three seconds, and then
lower. Do two sets of each side. Increase the number of repetitions as you build stamina.
Lie on the floor on your back with one knee bent and one leg straight. Make a fist with each hand,
and with palms facing down, slide fists under your buttocks. (This protects your lower back and
helps keep it on the floor). Your head also should remain on the floor.
Lift your straight leg as high as the top of the bent knee, and then lower it. Now reverse your legs
and repeat. Take it slow. Gradually build up your strength. Do only a few repetitions at first.
While standing with your hands on your hips, place your feet hip width apart, your toes facing
Keeping your back straight and lifted, slowly lower your buttocks behind you, as if you were going to
sit in a chair. If you can, stretch your arms out in front of you. If this is difficult, place your hands on
your hips or out to the sides. Slowly rise to standing and repeat. Throughout the exercise keep
your stomach muscles tight and your weight in your heels. If you bend straight down and don't sit
backward somewhat, it could create pressure on your knees.
Upper Back Strengthener
Stand up and raise your arms to the side at about shoulder height. Bend your elbows 90 degrees
so your hands face forward. Move your arms backward so your elbows come toward each other.
Hold for about three to five seconds, and then release. Be sure to keep your arms at shoulder
height so you work your upper back. Repeat about five times initially, more if it's comfortable for you.
Get on all fours. Lift your left leg straight out behind you (not higher than your buttocks) and stretch
your right arm straight out in front of you (level with your head). Take a deep breath, keeping your
tummy tight. Hold for eight seconds. Repeat using the other leg and arm. Repeat exercise three
times on each side.
Building a Stronger Back and Hips
Lie on your stomach. Bring your hands together and rest your forehead on them. Slowly lift one leg
off the floor about two inches, hold for two or three seconds, and then lower it. Switch legs and
repeat. Start slowly, and increase the number of repetitions gradually.
Get down on all fours, nice and square. With your knees under your hips and your hands below
your shoulders, draw an imaginary line from the tip of one forefinger to the other. Drop your nose to
the floor one inch in front of the imaginary line. Want to crank the intensity up a step? Drop your
nose three inches in front of that line. Repeat three or four times at first; gradually build up the
number you can do comfortably.
If you have bad wrists, you may not want to do this exercise or you may want to try it with your hands
on a countertop instead of the floor.
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049