You already know that spending time caring for animals helps children learn empathy and develop responsible life skills. Now a new study has found that the act of riding a horse may strengthen their cognitive abilities!
According to researchers from Tokyo University of Agriculture, vibrations created by horses while being ridden activate the sympathetic nervous system, aiding in memory, problem solving and learning.
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The scientists asked children to complete a series of simple response questions and math problems both before and after a session in the saddle.
The study, published in Frontiers in Public Health, found that horseback riding greatly improved the children's ability to perform behavioral tasks. However, the results were less significant when solving mathematical problems.
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To explain how the simple act of riding a horse could improve cognitive function, the study's author Professor Mitsuaki Ohta said:
“One important characteristic of the horse steps is that they produce three-dimensional accelerations. The movement of the horse's pelvis may provide motor and sensory inputs to the human body and in this study I believe some of the differences among the rider's performances might be due to these accelerations."
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So forget the tutors and Baby Einstein videos! Get those kids out to the barn ASAP!
Although the study focused on children - who have a much higher capacity for learning than adults - it makes sense that the vibrations from riding could also stimulate an older brain.
Yet another great reason to take a good, long ride when you are stressed out, overwhelmed, or just looking to clear your head!
H/T to The Independent UK
Featured Image via Flickr/Stefan Schmitz