Calories burnt in dressage training?

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20 August 2017
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Hi all,

Last night I had a fantastic dressage lesson - it lasted just under an hour and a half (including the whole group mounting & dismounting etc.) and most of it was done either in sitting trot or without stirrups (in both trot and canter). We had a great time working on suppleness, leg yielding, half-pass and counter-bend etc!

I've recently got an apple watch and rode with it on for the first time and in total I burned 945 calories (795 as a direct result of the exercise) with an average HR of 145bpm! Does this seem a bit far fetched or does the combination of the sitting trot or lack of stirrups and riding a strong horse who needs a ***** ton of leg to get him moving, and then a lot of work from the riders core to keep him from running away with you and/or keeping him off the forehand when he does get going mean I just worked really hard?

I'm over here hoping that my numbers are right but I've got a hunch that they're not!
 

Abi90

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Calories seem feasible to be honest. Heart rate seems a little excessive but it depends, were you really out of breath? 145 bpm is not that high
 
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I wouldn't argue with you at all. I don't think many folk realise just how energetic riding can be - most non-horsey people think we just sit there letting the horse do all the work hahah!

I self taught myself to ride - like a cossack, or more likely a Red Indian as I saw more of them on films as a kid. Then in mid life, I took up Dressage at the probably the best place in England at the time ( I hadn't a clue it was that good - it was just down the lane from where I lived!). Despite being a reasonably fit bloke, only those who've done it will know the agony I suffered!

Curing twenty years of doing the wrong thing, toes in, heels down, sitting into the saddle (you know the kind of thing) and then trying to pass the whole lot off with a cheery smile on one's face while still concentrating on the ellusive elbow-hands-to mouth thing with the knitting. It's enough for me to break out in a sweat just thinking of it!

Eventually, I bought one of the school horses ( long story!) and spent the next 17 years worshipping the ground she trod - a wonderful part of my life. Good luck with yours.
 

Hanno Verian

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Hi there, I think that its a little over inflated, I've just restarted rowing (on a concept 2) using a heart rate monitor (chest mounted) and over the course of three sessions of fairly high intensity training this week have notched up 1.15 of rowing, with an average heart rate of 135 BPM and a calorific burn of 654. I would say I was rowing at about 70% continuously for the whole time, it was interval training of 5 x 750m sprints undertaken on 3 days (total distance 11 250m).

We certainly burn calories doing flatwork but 795 seems excessive for a similar period of time, as I'm assuming that you weren't riding continuously for 90 minutes.

There was a study in 2016 and the then Apple watch was found to be the most accurate of the wrist mounted monitors (see below:

"Measuring heart rate accurately is pretty easy, comparatively speaking. Electrocardiograph methods have been in (basic) use for over a century, but even today, they’re not really practical for use outside of a medical practice. Hooking electrodes up to the skin is somewhat impractical for day-to-day use, to put it mildly.

That means that fitness trackers promising heart-rate monitoring have to make compromises. While some offer support for chest straps to measure the heartbeat directly, most of them plump for optical heart-rate sensors. These work by illuminating the capillaries in the wrist with an LED light, while an adjacent sensor measures the frequency at which blood flows underneath the skin, giving you an estimated rate at which the heart is pumping blood.

That’s the intent anyway – a compromise solution based on the practicalities of fashion and technology – but how accurate are they? The Cleveland Clinic has just published a study of four fitness trackers that provides some interesting reading for fitness fans.

The researchers took four fitness trackers (the Apple Watch, Fitbit Charge HR, Mio Fuse and the Basis Peak) and measured their results against a chest strap and an EKG on 50 healthy adults at rest, walking and running on a treadmill. In all, they recorded 1,773 heart-rate readings across all the devices, with readings ranging from between 49 and 200bpm.

Overall, the chest strap was almost as good as the EKG, measuring 99% accuracy, which isn’t too surprising as both technologies work the same way, capturing electrical activity directly from the heart.

Things dropped off for the commercial fitness bands, but it was the Apple Watch that maintained the most accuracy, managing around 91%, beating the Mio Fuse by a nose. The Fitbit Charge HR and Basis Peak had around 84% and 83% accuracy, respectively.

The reduced accuracy of wrist-based tracking isn’t surprising to study co-author Dr Gordon Blackburn, director of cardiac rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic. “You need to have good contact between the photosensing cells; as a person is exercising more vigorously, there’s more bounce, so you may lose some of that contact,” he explained.

However, that’s not to say that wearables shouldn’t be consulted anymore, but perhaps take it with a pinch of salt – especially at higher activity levels. “What we really noticed was all of the devices did not a bad job at rest for being accurate for their heart rate, but as the activity intensity went up, we saw more and more variability,” said Blackburn. “At the higher levels of activity, some of the wrist technology was not accurate at all.”

The moral of the story is that if you’re serious about measuring your heart rate, it might be time to consider a chest strap."

I hope that helps, sounds like you had a great schooling session though!!!
 
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I'm glad to hear you all agree with me! I tend to have a resting HR of around 60-70bpm although I can often look at my watch whilst sat at my desk and it an be in the 80's! I often peak at 180-190bpm in the gym when HIT training - luckily I'm still only 21 so I'm not completely maxing my HR.

Either way I'm extremely happy with it - it was a new riding school, instructor, horse etc and I was very happy to be pushed and worked!! Left the lesson feeling like I had learned a lot and actually worked opposed to them lessons that are just to make the rider happy!
 
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Thanks Hanno,

I used to row competitively with team GB youth (before a fractured knee literally shattered all my hopes and dreams!) and I would say a workout on an ergo is definitely more strenuous - however it may be my lack of fitness at this current moment in time (a few months out of the gym due to travelling with work, Christmas etc etc) that may have been contributing to the high HR!
 

abbijay

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I think it doesn't sound wildly inaccurate (compared to my results). I usually average a HR in the 140s for my private dressage lessons and depending on the intensity of a session burn around 400 calories per hour.
The calories will be effected by a number of things such as age, weight and existing fitness level so I would expect an hour and a half at good pace could reach those levels.
 

ester

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All of these things seem to massively over estimate the calories burned from riding from what I have seen. I don't know if it is just that the amount of effort that has had to be put in is so variable, and dependent on current riding fitness levels.
 
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Yeah I know age, height, weight etc all play a part! I'm 6ft tall, 21 and have had a fairly active life so I've always tended to burn more calories than other people of a similar age but who are smaller etc as my body just needs to burn more energy to function! On a fairly inactive day where i do about 30/40mins of exercise walking into town and back by body burns approx 2500-2750 a day!
 

ester

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By saying it overestimate riding I guess I'm just comparing it to other things, when I have tried anothers fitbit riding it would generate masses of calories when although I had worked I wouldn't be out of puff/particularly tired. Compared to what it would generate from a full aerobic gym work out.
 

Tronk

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I went hunting on an apparently fast day on Tuesday. I recorded the activity on my Garmin HR watch, I (or rather my poor horse!) did 15 miles over 3 hours, and I burned 754 calories. My heart rate went to a max of 179 and was 134 on average. I was mostly holding tight with my eyes shut rather than using any leg muscles though! I guess it depends on what your weight is but I think the 900+ calories for the lesson might be a little optimistic? I find the looking at the stats totally addictive 😀
 

Mule

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I can't say about the stats. But I and others I've spoken to find dressage much more exerting than cross country.
 

Batgirl

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The calories will be inaccurate simply because the way watches calculate them are inaccurate so don't use them to indicate how much cake you can eat.

The heart rate measurements will be roughly accurate and I did a comparison with my PT on my circuits classes versus similar amount of time dressage training and they were fairly similar. I am working just as hard in dressage as at circuits and therefore burning a similar amount of calories (though not the calories that a tracker would say)

Your heart rate is an indication of how hard you are working and therefore how many calories you are burning however this will change as you get fitter - you should be able to burn more calories with a lower heart rate the fitter you are.
 

JFTDWS

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I reckon they're a massive over-estimate for riding too. I burn a shedload of kcals according to the fitbit when I'm schooling my lot, but I tend to ignore it...

Hanno's post is interesting, HR sensor on my fitbit does get a bit out of whack as exercise intensity increases (I've done some low budget checks on that for my own amusement before).
 

Abi90

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I guess your body gets used to certain exercises and finds them less strenuous even though the have the same energy expenditure?
It does yes. And actually the stronger you get the less energy you expend. Calories burnt also very much depends on how fit you already are. A fit person running 5K will burn less calories than someone just getting back into running as their muscles and heart and lungs aren’t working as hard.

It’s also really important to have weight training as part of your fitness programme, as muscle mass requires more calories in your daily intake. If all you did was run, for example, you would initially lose weight which means you would need less calories per day and would have to keep running further and further to achieve the same
 

Sussexbythesea

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I read an article in the Metro yesterday on the train and it had an article where some tests done scientifically using Indirect Calorimetry and showed fitness bands often over estimated the amount of calories burned quite significantly.

Also predicted burn for some classes such as Les Mills were significantly over-estimated.
 

ycbm

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I think it's over estimating the calories used riding because it's assuming that the movement that it is recording is all being generated by the rider when in fact most of it is being generated by the horse.
 

madamebonnie

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My heart rate is ridiculously low. Sometimes drops below 40 at night but settles 50 in the day. My Samsung gear is rubbish for recording HR when riding...the movements mess it up and I reach over 200 :D but it's telling me an hours riding is 368kcals
 

HeresHoping

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I think it's over estimating the calories used riding because it's assuming that the movement that it is recording is all being generated by the rider when in fact most of it is being generated by the horse.
This, with bells on.

Have you set the steps to horse riding? I know some of them allow you to do this. I don't have a FitBit, but I do have an App on my 'phone that records steps. 45 mins hack with my 'phone in my pocket can be anything from 7000 - 12000 steps, depending upon how much trotting I squeeze in. 45 mins to an hour in the school and I can hit 15000. The setting is on the lowest sensitivity so you have to move to actually record the steps. It has no idea how much of that effort is me. According to its conversions, 15000 steps is about 550 calories. I don't even burn that much on a 40 minute run.
 

only_me

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HR is entirely individual. My resting heart rate on average is 55 atm, when I was running properly resting was 49. when I was running it can go to 192, average is around 174. And this is when I was running 10k three times a week!! During a half it peaked at 206 which is far far to high and over my maximum (193). As my resting is so low and when running is so high so the range is huge I did get it checked out but all is clear so it’s just me!

HR is linked to calorie burn also, when I’m riding I go by heart rate rather than steps/calorie burns and you can work out what “zone”you are in which is probably more accurate level of work intensity. I’d say you burnt 2/3 of what your watch said :)
 

Hanno Verian

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Hi Charf

Glad it was useful, don't get too hung up numbers, treat them as a guide not an absolute! I used to get obsessed over split times cycling and all the cadence & HR readings, generally it confirmed how I felt about myself, I know my own body. We all fluctuate and cardio fitness will always drop off first, but if your active and moving around then you will keep a base level of fitness.
Probably they key thing is about eating well to feed your body and minimising hidden sugars

Out of interest how do you find rowing and riding, were there any conflicts between the two sports in terms of what was good for one being bad for the other? I'm very much a rowing newbie, I used concept2's previously but honestly had little idea of what I was doing and as a consequence my technique is probably poor.
 
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