General

Study proves that riding a motorcycle reduces stress

We knew it!

IT’S THE age old remedy to a bad day, going for a ride.

And now a study from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour, at the University of California, Los Angeles, has proven that riding is, in fact, very good for your mental health.

The study, which was funded by Harley-Davidson America, saw three UCLA researchers use electroencephalogram equipment to record the brain activity and hormone levels of more than 50 motorcyclists before, during and after riding a bike, while driving a car and resting.

And unsurprisingly, the results revealed a number of potential mental and physical benefits of riding, including decreased levels of cortisol, a hormonal marker of stress.

The bike ride resulted in a 28% decrease in biomarkers of stress, while riding a motorcycle for 20 minutes increased participants' heart rates by 11% and adrenaline levels by 27%, which is similar to light exercise.

Equally, changes in the riders’ brain activity suggested an increase in alertness similar to drinking a cup of coffee, while sensory focus was enhanced meaning that riders were more alert.

Harley-Davidson plans on using the study’s findings to help sell motorcycles.

“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 USA’s senior vice president of marketing.

 “We knew riders had reported that motorcycles gave them peace of mind, but no one had really rigorously quantified it before,” one of the researchers, neuroscientist Don Vaughn, added.

“When I measured it, these were just the facts I observed,” he said.

The male and female participants came from a wide age spectrum, with varying levels of riding experience. While engaging in the surveyed activities they wore a tight cap fitted with electrodes, which could take up to 40 minutes to adjust and make sure the electrodes had a solid connection.

In the tests, they rode for about 20 minutes on somewhat rural roads, in two locations, where traffic wasn’t too busy.

However, the researchers added, while the riding reduction in hormonal biomarkers was notable, you could probably get a similar stress reduction in other ways, such as going for a morning jog or playing a round of golf.

“It’s not going to completely alter your perception of reality, but it’s significant,” added Vaughn, who is not a motorcyclist.

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now

Latest Videos

Feature
Article
Article