We’ve all felt it before: this uncontrollable need to smile, breathing in the air of freedom, feeling the interior peace and weightlessness that comes with being on the road and sharing a moment alone with yourself to the sound of a mix of exhaust note and wind. This might all sound a little sappy and over-poeticized, but you know exactly the feeling I’m describing and als know that very little can compare. Apparently, it’s not just a “feeling”—riding actually is good for us.
It would make perfect sense for Harley-Davidson to fund a research about the physical benefits of riding considering the brand’s notoriety for making ride-friendly bikes, right? Well, that’s exactly what the Milwaukee company has done. In collaboration with the UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, a study among over 50 experienced riders was conducted to determine the effects of a motorcycle ride on the brain.
All the riders studied were hooked up to a mobile electroencephalogram (EEG), a sort of shower cap-like device covered in electrodes that detect the brain’s electrical activity. They were then set loose on their bikes. The subjects’ brain activity and hormones were also monitored before the ride, while they were driving a car, and while they were resting in order to establish comparables.
What the researchers observed is that the ride decreased the participants’ level of stress (28-percent decrease in stress biomarkers), that it slightly increased their heartbeat (a 20-minute ride increased heartbeat by 11 percent), their adrenaline levels (by 27-percent) as well as their focus and alertness.
This means the next time you are sitting at your computer feeling sluggish or that you get home after a long a stressful day, the answer to getting back on track or relieving some of the tension could be as simple as going out for a ride. You know, in case you needed another good reason to throw on your jacket and helmet and head out. Now go out and ride, doctor’s order.