Riding a motorcycle is an amazing experience – you can tear down the road with the wind in your hair and instead of being wrapped up in a steel cage, you are able to feel every nuance of the road beneath your wheels. Did you know that riding a motorcycle on a regular basis can have physical and mental health benefits as well? You may want to trade in that old car for a new shiny bike after reading on.
While driving a car isn’t exactly a mindless activity, navigating a motorcycle in and out of traffic requires higher levels of spatial reasoning just to keep track of all of the vehicles around you.
A study done by Ryuta Kawashima Laboratory at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan found that regularly riding a motorcycle can improve pre-frontal cortex functions, resulting in higher levels of concentration, lower stress levels, and a more positive outlook.
Anyone who’s ridden a motorcycle can probably attest to the freedom and improved mood that a quick ride provides. There’s an old joke that you’ll never see a motorcycle parked outside of a psychiatrist’s office and this study definitely points to why.
While driving a car may get you from point A to point B, it won’t help you meet your step goals for the day or burn any calories. Riding a motorcycle on the other hand, is a full body workout.
Steering a motorcycle isn’t as easy as driving a car – it requires the driver to engage their entire body to balance and steer the bike. This has a ton of benefits including:
- Core Strength – You’ll find yourself engaging your core muscles to assist in steering the motorcycle and to keep it stable at lower speeds. For long distance rides, and even shorter trips, it can be better than a plank!
- Stronger legs and thighs – You won’t just be gripping the bike with your legs – you’ll find yourself engaging you entire lower body to keep your bike upright.
And these are just the benefits of riding a street-legal motorcycle around town. More intense riding, like you might find at the local dirt bike or ATV trail, provides an even more amazing workout experience. It’s creating such amazing results that some exercise enthusiasts are even using it as the main part of their daily exercise. Trail riding requires a lot of upper body strength as well, because you’ll find yourself pulling your front tire out of sandy or muddy areas and keeping it upright while the rear tire propels you forward.
Safety is Paramount
It doesn’t matter if you’re riding a speedy Suzuki or a more comfortable Harley chopper – riding a motorcycle can be dangerous and it’s up to you to make sure that you do everything that you can to stay safe on the roads. The easiest and arguably most important step that you can take to ensure your safety on the roads is to wear a Department of Transportation approved helmet.
Fatal injury and death is 26 times more likely to occur during a motorcycle accident than during a comparable automobile accident, simply because a motorcycle driver doesn’t have the steel cage of a car to protect them.
By changing their motorcycle helmet laws to include all riders, 30 states have seen a marked decrease in motorcycle-related deaths. A universal helmet law, meaning that all motorcycle riders have to wear a helmet regardless of age, often results in highest decrease in motorcycle related deaths. California has just recently adopted a very strict helmet law and as a result has seen a dramatic decrease in deaths.
Overall, riding a motorcycle is one of the most relaxing experiences that you may ever have, and it’s got some great health benefits too, but it’s not always the safest way to travel. A little common sense, and a good quality helmet, can go a long way toward making sure that you’re around to enjoy that shiny new bike for years to come.