Why I Always Wear A FitBit When I Ride

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If you can wear your FitBit while you run, you can wear a FitBit while you ride. At least that’s what I do: riding, running, yoga, sleeping, I’m never not wearing it – except for when I’m charging it. I knew horseback riding was a good workout for your core, back, and legs. But I didn’t know that it was also a cardio workout. Great cardio, actually, depending on how long and hard you ride.

In a normal lesson working on lateral work, the rising trot, and the sitting trot, I’m averaging burning 300 calories in a half-hour ride. The amount of time my heart is in my target cardio workout range? Nearly the whole ride time. Of course, it’s summer and it’s hot so it’s going to be easier to get my heart up to that cardio work-out range for my age and weight. This can, and should, change over time. Not just when the weather changes, but as my fitness level increases. According to Meredith Crilly, a nutritionist who also writes for, the more in shape you are, the lower your resting heart rate will become. This will affect what your target fat burning, cardio, and max heart rate ranges are.

But that’s the other benefit of wearing a fitness tracker: I can see how I’m progressing with each ride. I can see which days were the better workouts for me and know what I can do on my non-lesson days to stay in shape. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, everyone should be getting either 30 minutes of light cardio, like taking a walk, 5 days a week or 20 minutes of intense cardio 3 days a week. If I haven’t spent enough time in my target cardio heart-rate range for the week, I can add in a run or a longer ride. If I’ve already met my goal for the week, I can replace a run or working ride with yoga or a trail ride.

My FitBit has helped me figure out the best way to find the midpoint between too much and too little activity. It reminds me to stay hydrated and that I need to sleep better. Most importantly, I have proof that horseback riding is great exercise. It serves as a reminder to myself, that I am working hard. But it also is great to show friends, family, and personal trainers how physically hard, and rewarding, riding can be.

Nicole is a writer for Heels Down Media. If she's not writing or editing, she's either running, doing yoga, or at the barn working on becoming a better, stronger dressage rider.

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