Why do you enjoy motorcycle riding? The freedom? The flexibility? The fun? How about the healthy benefits? Really! Riders already know that their bikes provide much more than simple transportation, but did you realize that your body and mind can experience some real perks?
Who Needs the Gym?
Driving a car is a largely passive activity. You’re sitting and letting the vehicle do all the work. Sure, in some circumstances (when a driver swerves into your lane or runs a light when you’re going through an intersection, for example), your heart gets a workout. But your body remains relatively inactive. You burn just 50-100 calories per hour — about as much as you would burn sitting on your couch watching television.
Motorcycle riding is different. It’s a full body workout that burns between 200-300 calories per hour, and even more if you’re riding against the wind. Maneuvering the bike engages virtually every muscle and improves tone, particularly:
- Your core. Steering and balancing is better than any number of crunches or rounds on the ab machines at the gym. The continual corrections and movements you make add up to a terrific workout. Want a six pack? Keep riding (and eat your lean proteins and veggies!).
- Your legs. Treadmill going nowhere or bike going anywhere you want? It’s an easy choice! And unlike exercises that beat on the joints (e.g. running, squats), you can build muscle effectively with low impact.
- Your neck. When your bike is adjusted to fit you correctly, you can strengthen your neck muscles when riding. The posture you must maintain to ride safely also helps alleviate pesky back pains. But be aware, if you do have a properly fitted bike or helmet, riding can worsen pain in these areas.
TIP: If you are new to motorcycle riding, be sure to get into shape first. Sure, road safety courses are critical, but you also want to build the right muscles. Focus on strengthening your core; you’ll need those muscles when you hit the road for your next adventure.
Sharp Corners, Sharp Mind
Can motorcycle riding make you smarter? Science says “yes.” Neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima worked with teams from Yamaha Japan and Tohoku University, to study the impact of riding on cognitive function.
For their research, they selected 22 men in their 40s and 50s. The men all had motorcycle licenses but had not ridden for at least 10 years. Half of the participants rode a motorcycle every day for two months; the other half could not. The groups took tests before and after the two month period.
The bikers scored better. They improved their scores by over 50 percent, while the non-riders saw theirs decrease a bit. According to Dr. Kawashima, the brain is “activated” by motorcycle riding. It makes sense: while motorcyclists constantly work their bodies to operate safely, they must also exercise their brains. Remaining alert and focused is critical — and good for this very important muscle!
How do you feel when you head out on the road? For many motorcyclists, worries melt away. There’s a reason for this: endorphins. These are the little shots of “feel good” hormones that the body releases after exercise. Since you’re getting a great workout, it makes sense that your body responds accordingly.
Your mood elevates, your stress levels decrease, and you feel a sense of euphoria. This is often called “runner’s high,” but it applies to riders just as much.
There are other mental health benefits as well. For example, when you accelerate, you may release adrenaline (which helps you stay alert), and when you’re out in the abundant Florida sunshine, you soak up some mood-enhancing Vitamin D.
Doing what makes you happy is one of the best ways to maintain mental health. If that’s riding motorcycles, great! It’s a healthy, fun activity that gets you from Point A to Point B — and if you take a detour to Point Z, all the better!
Are Motorcycles Worth It?
There are many physical and mental health benefits associated with riding, but are motorcycles worth it?
Motorcyclists have a greater chance of being significantly injured and killed in accidents compared to drivers of four-wheeled vehicles. There is no shortage of dangers, from inattentive and distracted drivers to poor road conditions and severe weather.
When you enjoy riding, and the positive impacts it can have on your life, it is important to take every step possible to ensure your safety. This includes taking approved safety courses, wearing a DOT-approved helmet, donning adequate boots and clothing, operating responsibly, remaining aware, and contacting an experienced motorcycle accident attorney if you are injured by the negligence, carelessness, or recklessness of another party.
Are motorcycles worth it? Ask yourself how you feel after your next ride! We’re betting the answer is “Yes!”