5 Mental and Physical Benefits of Riding a Motorcycle
We hear about the dangers of riding a motorcycle all too often but rarely are the physical and, more importantly, the mental benefits spoken about. Some of the benefits are obvious, others not so much. These are the reasons you feel so good after you take the long way home .
That feeling of pure joy after a long ride, something every motorcyclist can relate to. The reason we feel so happy is pretty simple; every twist of the wrist releases adrenaline which, in turn, releases endorphins. These ‘feel good’ hormones improve our mood, increase pleasure and minimize pain.
So, endorphins give us that joyous feeling but, after a ride, there’s also that sense of relief, like a weight has been lifted.
This is similar to mindfulness meditation: Body position, speed, road position – on a motorcycle you’re constantly analyzing and adjusting depending on the situation. This ties us into the present moment, and means our minds have no room for worries about money, jobs or any other day-to-day problems.
You’re fully engaged while riding. This is why your mind is like a blank slate when you throw your leg off after a long ride.
If someone had told me I could increase my cognitive function while grinning from ear to ear with joy, I’d probably have told them to go sell crazy somewhere else.
But a scientific study, conducted by Ryuta Kawashima, who partnered with Yamaha Japan and Tohoku University, found exactly that. Riding a motorcycle improves your cognitive function, by as much as 50%.
This is down to the fact that riding a motorcycle requires a high level of alertness and rapid problem-solving. According to Kawashima, “the driver’s brain gets activated by riding motorbikes.”
Core and Neck Strength
The day after their first long ride, many motorcyclists report the same aches and pains – muscles in our necks are always at the top of the list. Wearing a helmet for a few hours a day would strengthen your neck regardless, throw windblast into the equation and you’ve got a real neck workout.
This is especially true for those who ride without a windshield.
You still need to make sure your motorcycle fits you correctly, as constantly cranking or straining your neck will have a negative impact in the long run.
This means checking the handlebars, seating position and foot pegs are right for your measurements.
Riding a motorcycle requires lots of muscles to work together but your core ties everything together.
Every maneuver you make on a motorcycle involves the use of your core, especially low-speed maneuvers. The movements are low-impact and relatively low intensity so it’s something you may not notice but, if you’ve been riding for a while, your core will be stronger.
No More Squats
Riding a motorcycle requires you to constantly move around on the bike, gripping with your thighs and knees. These movements strengthen your thighs and in turn, strengthen your knees.
The muscles in the thighs are used to keep the patella and other bones in the knee in place. Since the movements are low-impact, people who suffer knee or thigh pains describe riding a motorcycle as a kind of physical therapy.
For those lucky enough not to have those problems, riding can help you stay injury free.
Burn Some Calories
Yes, you can burn a substantial number of calories while a riding a motorcycle – the gift that just keeps giving.
Those who like to get dirty can burn up to 600 calories per hour of intense motocross riding. Stick to the streets and you can burn between 200-300 calories per hour, especially if you ride with some vigor.
Even passengers on sport bikes can burn up to 50 calories per hour. But, unfortunately, passengers on cruisers and tourers aren’t likely to see their calorie expenditure go up.