Motorcyclists love to portray their bikes as their companions – more than just a machine, a friend. We’ve long argued that our motorcycles help us in relieving stress and now, turns out those metaphorical friends really are capable of providing stress relief. A neurobiological study funded by Harley-Davidson has confirmed the physical benefits of riding motorcycles. The study was conducted by a team of three researchers from UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and it yielded scientific evidence that gives motorcyclists the last word in all related arguments – “Hah! It’s been proven scientifically!”
Researchers recorded participants’ brain activity and hormone levels before, during, and after motorcycling, driving a car, and resting. While riding a motorcycle, participants experienced increased sensory focus and resilience to distraction. Riding also produced an increase in adrenaline levels and heart rate, as well as a decrease in cortisol metrics – results often associated with light exercise and stress-reduction.
“Stress levels, especially among young adults, continue to rise, and people are exploring pathways to better their mental and physical health. Until recently, the technology to rigorously measure the impact of activities like motorcycling on the brain didn’t exist,” said Dr Don Vaughn, the neuroscientist who led the research team. “The brain is an amazingly complex organ and it’s fascinating to rigorously investigate the physical and mental effects riders report.”
“We’re leveraging the latest technologies as we shift our focus from exclusively motorcycles to growing ridership, so it only made sense to tap technology to explore the impact of riding itself,” said Heather Malenshek, Harley-Davidson’s Senior Vice President of Marketing & Brand.
So, if you’re not a motorcyclist – there you have it now. Riding a motorcycle works better than anti-depressants for a lot of us. It won’t be long before if we miss a phone call because we were riding and explain ourselves saying – “I’m sorry I couldn’t answer, I was in therapy.”