UPDATED March 2005 Go horseback riding for a few days and you'll understand why all those rodeo Marlboro man types packs Men's Health abs. Riding stimulates seldom-used muscles in the dorsal and abdominal regions and brings many core health benefits, the most appealing being that the user gets fit without actually having to do anything. Based on the above, Japanese manufacturers of exercise machines are releasing a new range of machines which are proving to be quite a success story in Japan. Aimed at a wide range of people from those who suffer from lifestyle injuries, to the middle-aged and older generations, these new exercise machines have one very special facet to the way they are used: the user does not need to do anything.
One of the most successful of these machines is called the Joba Horseriding Exercise Machine, which is exactly that - a mechanical horse for the home built by Matsushita Electrical Works Ltd. (MEW) based in Kadoma, Osaka, in conjunction with Nagoya University in Nagoya, Japan. This indoor fitness machine offers its user the ability to access a form of horseback-riding therapy, which allows the user to get the effect of physical exercises just by sitting on the machine without any exertion from the user.The Jobadoes not actually look like a horse, and is probably better described as the saddle of a rodeo machine or the seat of a motorcycle.
The benefits are clear as it helps stimulate seldom used muscles in the dorsal and abdominal regions. Tests in Japan have shown that "riders" begin burning far more calories after just three months using the machine. Compared to walking or swimming, the riding machine causes less physical stress to knees and other parts of the lower body.
Perfectly designed for those who are disinclined to doing strenuous physical exercise (or dare we say it: those who are lazy), the designers of the Joba actually started the project with a different purpose in mind.
MEW president Kazushige Nishida in collaboration with Professor Yuzo Sato of the Research Center of Health, Physical Fitness and Sports at Nagoya University, successfully demonstrated the effect that horseback-riding fitness equipment had on diabetes which was verified at the 58th Annual Meeting of Japanese Society of Physical Fitness and Sport Medicine held in Shizuoka Prefecture in September 2003.
The data showed that Joba is a fitness machine that enhances glucose metabolism with fewer burdens on the body, perfect for patients to get the effect of physical exercises without having to undergo strenuous physical exercise. And as a large number of diabetes sufferers have problems with their gonalgia, low pack pain, cardiovascular functions etc., the machine would allow sufferers the benefits of glucose metabolisation without resorting to therapeutic exercises that involve heavy stresses on their body such as walking and cycling.
According to the collaborative experiments carried out by MEW and Nagoya University, they were able to establish that people exercising on Joba metabolised approximately 1.6 times as much glucose as they did in their resting time. The amount of glucose metabolized in two sets of 15 minute routines using the Joba fitness exercise was equivalent to the amount of glucose metabolized in an approximately a 22-minute medium-load (15km/h) bicycle ride or an approximately one-hour relaxed stroll. The 30-minute exercise could also be compared to a 35-minute walk at 80m/min. They concluded that Joba exercise enhances the glucose uptake in skeletal muscle approximately 1.6 times as much as its use at rest.
Designers at MEW began to develop a training machine that employed virtual reality technology with 3-D data of riding in a saddle of a thoroughbred. This training machine was then called the Joba Exa, which was launched in October 1998 and sold to community groups and elderly-care institutions.
By 2000, MEW released the world's first home horseback-riding exercise machine in Joba to the market. Two successive models have since hit the market, and up until now sales have increased exponentially at a pace of about 2000 units per month since release.