There’s no doubt 2020 has been a weird ride. The pandemic continues to put a strain on physical, emotional and mental health.
We’re riding this thing out, and taking the wrong way home is a proven means of managing stress.
“You never see a bike parked outside a psychologists office” is a well-worn adage among riders. Studies have shown riding can make a serious difference in the way our bodies react to stress and mental strain.
The benefits are purported to extend beyond stress management. Riding stimulates your mind and can help keep you fit, focused and even improve cognitive function as you age.
Neurobiological research commissioned by Harley-Davidson in 2019 found that riding a motorcycle “decreased the hormonal biomarkers of stress by 28 per cent”
The team of three researchers from UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior monitored the monitored electrical brain activity and heart rate, as well as levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol of a group of 50 motorcyclists.
In English – riding can cut your stress level by nearly a third.
That’s not all. The same H-D backed study found that riding can also help you stay in shape.
Across the group, riding a motorcycle for 20 minutes increased participants' heart rates by 11 per cent and adrenaline levels by 27 per cent.
The bump in heart thumps and the hit of adrenaline make riding equivalent to light exercise. So, after Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Week, you may suddenly develop a six pack. Probably not though.
We are yet to meet a rider of any age who is too old to simulate engine noises or do dramatic recreations of their most glorious moments on twisty roads. Riding seems to keep riders young.
A study promoted by Yamaha showed that incorporating motorcycle riding into daily life improved cognitive functions and had positive effects on mental and emotional health.
Leader of the Yamaha backed research team, Ryuta Kawashima, said daily life can cause our brain to get caught in cruise control, with diminishing returns.
"In a convenient and easy environment, the human mind and body get used to setting the hurdle low," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Our final conclusion is that riding motorcycles can lead to smart ageing."
The research showed differences in brain use and the level of brain stimulation between riders who ride regularly and motorcyclists who have not ridden for extended periods, with regular riders coming out on top.
The H-D study concurs. Changes in study participants' brain activity while riding suggested an increase in alertness similar to drinking a cup of coffee.
Research also found that sensory focus was enhanced while riding a motorcycle versus driving a car. The difference is similar to comparing the sensory focus of experienced meditators versus people who have never meditated. Riders
This will come as no surprise to riders, but riders also make safer drivers. So much so in fact, that after a three year study in the UK, insurance company Carole Nash allows drivers who also ride to save big chunks off their insurance premium.
So, now you’ve got the facts to back up the feelings, get the word out. Riding makes you happy!
If you prefer it straight from the horse’s mouth, check out the studies in detail here http://www.donvaughn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Motorcycle-Study-Research-Results.pdf and here - https://global.yamaha-motor.com/news/2009/0304/research.html