Last week Harley-Davidson shared details of a research project it funded at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, linking motorcycle riding to all sorts of health benefits. For those of us that ride, this a no brainer. Riding is a release; a way to focus and leave stress behind. It allows us to commune with friends or family, to expand our appreciation for life, freedom, exploration, and adventure. I could go on and on.
But it’s always nice to have science back up our seat-of-the-pants conclusions. According to the study, sensory focus and resilience to distraction were both increased while riding a bike. Adrenaline levels and heart rates rose, similar to when you engage in light exercise. Cortisol levels, a common hormonal marker that’s used to measure stress, decreased as well.
It’s somewhat rare to see a study from academia treat anything but questions about injury, accident incidence or death with regards to riding a motorcycle, so these findings are like a breath of fresh air. Non-riders in places where motorcycles aren’t an integral part of the broader culture, like the USA for instance, are often led to believe that a rider is some type of criminal or irresponsible thrill seeker. This study is a small blip on the radar, to be sure, but it helps to prove that there really is something more substantial about being on the open road on two wheels than the overwrought caricatures would suggest.
As mentioned above, however, this is already viscerally known to each and every person that’s ever spent an extended amount of time on a motorcycle. I know for myself, there have been many times that riding has cleared my head, has elevated my mood, has brought me closer to myself and others. I can’t say that it’s reduced my cholesterol levels just yet, but who knows what study Harley has on the docket next.
By the way, I’m Byron. I’m new here and I look forward to contributing to this great community in the months and years to come.