For a seasoned rider, there’s almost nothing quite as refreshing and rejuvenating as a long ride through a picturesque route that suits his riding style. It’s often said that riding is therapy, but even the riders among us often take it just as an adage. Truth is, motorcycle riding has been scientifically proven to be not just a stress-buster, but has also been proven to enhance muscular and cerebral functions. Here in this article, we’ll take an objective look at why motorcycling is indeed a therapy, and why it’s so good for you. Let’s look at this topic through 10 points which bring the point home emphatically.
It’s Extremely Involving
To start off, there is one distinct advantage that motorcycles have over almost any other medium to travel with. A motorcycle lets its rider interact with the sights, sounds, smells, the touch and the thrill of the environment he’s riding through in a more immersive manner. You’re not sitting inside a controlled environment, and are facing the elements in a good measure. When you ride, there’s a pronounced sense of tactile connection to the machine, as well as the surroundings that is rather unmatched by other modes of transportation. Not without reason do they say – when your ride a motorcycle, your ride through the world, not past it
Riding Involves Physical Exercise
Riding a motorcycle involves using a whole bunch of your body muscles. A 30 minute session of hard riding around a racetrack would make some of your body parts you didn’t know existed ache. Riding on the racetrack involves intense exercise of certain body parts, like inner thighs and can tire even a fit guy out at a fast pace. Even street riding exercises the body to a large extent, and after a long-ish ride you’ll realise that you feel tired, in a rather satisfying way. The physical exercise involved with riding helps tone muscles, especially if you’re riding a sporty machine around bends. Riding exercises your body parts and helps you keep fit, and the best part is, you feel great doing it.
It Hones Your Reflexes
A motorcyclist has to use his body to balance the motorcycle at all times. Unlike a four-wheeler, there is never a point while riding a motorcycle where the machine is getting balanced all by itself. This translates into a much higher degree of alertness while riding a motorcycle. Exercises like avoiding traffic, making an overtaking manoeuvre, avoiding an obstacle, taking turns while leaned over, conscious counter steering, rev matching and in some cases dealing with surprises on the road, enhances your reflexes to a very high degree. Good riders generally have good reflexes, which is testimony to riding being good for brain’s alertness and its overall well-being.
It’s Euphoric to Explore While Riding
Every motorcycle ride is an experience. For someone who likes riding, even a short city commute is full of new experiences where you get to learn new things about your surroundings. At the end of it, this sense of enriching your experience with something you like doing, adds to your mental satisfaction and sense of feeling good. This feeling is enhanced multi-fold when you ride to a new destination; not just are the experiences completely new and more exciting, but the deep sense of satisfaction you get visiting new places enriches your life with knowledge, incidents and stories which go a long way in boosting your mental well being and your personality as a whole.
Scientifically Proven to Enhance Cerebral Power
The talk about motorcycling enhancing your cerebral capability isn’t just hearsay. There’s clinical evidence to support the theory with experiments having been carried out and significant benefits of riding having been documented. The most commonly referenced study in this field was by the Ryuta Kawashima Laboratory of the Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University. The study, carried out on riders who regularly rode to work each day and those that did not, conclusively proved that the brain of the rider is stimulated while riding a motorcycle. Cognitive functions, especially those relating to memory and spatial reasoning capacity increased dramatically when some ex-riders who had quit riding for ten years started riding again. The study also concluded that incorporating motorcycle riding into daily life improves various cognitive functions, particularly prefrontal cortex functions.
Scientifically Proven to be a Stress-Buster
This is something every rider would instantly agree with. If you’ve had a bad day, and if you’re suffering with stress, a longish ride on one of your favourite roads is guaranteed to bring you back to sanity and peace. But don’t just take the riders’ word for it. The aforementioned study also concluded that in addition to enhanced cognitive abilities, regular riding has positive effects on mental and emotional health such as stress reduction. The riders who were part of the study clearly stated that their stress levels had been reduced markedly and mentally they felt much more positive.
It’s Close to Spiritual for those who do it passionately
Spirituality, to quite a few amongst us is about being one with oneself. It’s about cutting through the continuous distractions which keep us occupied and do not let us communicate with our own, deep self. Riding a motorcycle, especially if the surroundings, the surface beneath, the bike and the weather are to your liking can swing open the doors that lead you to your real, inner self. When you are riding, your sense of oneness with yourself reaches a heightened level. There’s little to no noise in your mind, and you have this enhanced sense of existence, of really living your life, than just being alive. It’s a complex feeling to explain, as is the case with most things spiritual. The passionate riders amongst us, however, would agree that there are some rides which are deeply satisfying. Riding can bring about inner peace, which in other words is the very essence of spirituality.
It Helps Release all the Happy Chemicals in Your Brain
Scientifically speaking, emotions are nothing but chemical reactions in our brain. There are chemicals that the brain releases to make you feel happy, excited or even sad. The happy bunch of these chemicals includes, but is not limited to oxytocin, dopamine, endorphin, adrenaline and serotonin. Phrases like ‘a shot of dopamine’ and ‘adrenaline junkie’ are backed by medical science. Different chemical releases have different outcomes. However, these chemicals are produced more generously when we plan to do, or do something which excites us. For those who like riding, motorcycling is known to release a healthy cocktail of all those happy chemicals – helping enormously in keeping you ‘happy’, which in turn helps a great deal to keep you healthy as well.
The Achievement Boost
Let’s face it – we all strive for new achievements in our life. While the big feats take prolonged effort and a lot of time, there are those little rewards and treats along the way which keep us going. For a rider, those treats equate to exploring a beautiful new region, or successfully completing a long planned ride to a fancy destination, or taking that stunning selfie with spectacular scenery in the background. These are little rewards riders cherish. Every ride, planned or impromptu, rewards the riders to see new vistas, taste new flavours, meet new people and helps create a sense of achievement. This wholesome sense of doing something positive, constructive really helps enhance the overall well-being.
It can aid weight loss
While riding on the road helps tone your muscles, riding off the road can really be a massive calorie burner. Off road riding, or trails riding, engages the whole body into riding at a different level. For figures, those who are into trails may end up burning as many as 600 calories an hour. If you are a skilled rider and use your entire body to tackle rough terrain on an off-road machine you’d actually be exercising as though you’ve hit the gym. Balancing off-road motorcycles is like doing a bunch of exercises like sitting on a stability ball, or rowing – all at the same time. Standing on the pegs is like doing toe raises, while you’re constantly doing squats as you stand up and sit while riding an off-roader. If you’re into motorcycling at a serious level, you’re bound to lose weight over time.