H&H’s 12 days of fitness: 6 ways to boost your competition performance with a health kick

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  • In an age when social media is awash with snaps of leafy lunches and breakfast bowls, healthy living is on everyone’s radar – whether you currently participate or not. Riders are known for not fuelling themselves as well as they could – living on coffee and quick snacks at the yard – but there are a few simple steps you can take to improve your lifestyle and find the micro gains that will improve your performance in the saddle. Here we provide you with some horse rider health tips…

    1. Think of yourself as an athlete

    Take your own nutrition and exercise as seriously as you take your horse’s – after all, you’re a 50:50 partnership. Riding and managing horses is tough, physical work and if you want to perform well in your discipline you need to realise your body plays a key role in making this happen.

    2. Increase your water intake

    Nothing is more crucial to our horse rider health tips and athletic performance than water. Without sufficient water you will become dehydrated, which will affect your ability to think straight and react quickly. Always have a bottle with you to sip from at home and at a competition – try a bottle with time targets on to help you stay on track.

    3. Eat little and often

    Professional and working riders’ busy lifestyles make it tempting to skip regular meals and then reach for high-fat, high-sugar pick-me-ups. To avoid peaks and troughs in your blood sugar levels and the resulting mood swings and fatigue, take a leaf out of your horse’s book and try to “graze” on low-fat and low-sugar foods throughout the day.

    4. Adopt an exercise routine to meet your needs

    Equestrians don’t need to be gym fit, they need to be riding fit. Try a few sessions with a physio or personal trainer to identify which areas of your body you need to strengthen to minimise injury and increase strength, endurance and flexibility.

    5. Get some sleep

    This is easy to say but tricky to do when you’re facing a 3.30am start on a competition day and are juggling a full-time job with riding. That said, your mind needs to switch off and your body has to rest, recover and repair itself from the day’s hard work. Aim for an average of six to eight hours per night.

    6. Avoid processed foods as far as possible

    The convenience factor means we’re unlikely to avoid ready meals altogether, but cutting down and eating more foods as close to their natural state as possible will give you a boost.

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