Riding a Motorcycle Reduces Stress, Study Shows

Riding a bike is like exercising and drinking coffee all rolled into one 1 photo
Photo: Consumer Reports
Driving a car is a very stressful activity. So stressful, in fact, that it gave birth to the now widely used term road rage, which stands for the display of aggressive and dangerous behavior towards other people. Riding a motorcycle, on the other hand, has the opposite effect.
At least this is what the results of a study conducted by a team of scientists from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior say.

The study, funded by Harley-Davidson, found several interesting facts about the effects of riding a bike, including increased metrics of focus and attention and decreased levels of cortisol, a hormone that is a telltale sign of stress.

The researchers looked into the participants' electrical brain activity, heart rate and levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol measured before, during and after riding a motorcycle. As a control, the same things were measured before, during and after driving a car and resting.

As per the study’s findings, riding a motorcycle for 20 minutes can increase the heart rate by 11 percent, reaching a level similar to that achieved while performing a light exercise. The increase in alertness is similar to the one humans get after drinking a cup of coffee.

The most interesting finding is that riding a motorcycle was found to have a positive effect on stress levels, decreasing hormonal biomarkers by 28 percent compared to the other measured activities (Harley-Davidson did not reveal whether it means d).

“Stress levels, especially among young adults, continue to rise, and people are exploring pathways to better their mental and physical health,” said in a statement Don Vaughn, the leading neuroscientist behind the study.

“Until recently, the technology to rigorously measure the impact of activities like motorcycling on the brain didn’t exist.”

The study is titled The mental and physical effects of riding a motorcycle and will be presented in full later this year. Its findings are based on measurements taken from 50 experienced motorcyclists that rode their own bikes on a 22-minute route.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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