Study: Motorcycles have same effect as light exercise and a cup of coffee

Get ready to rev your engines: It’s time to ride like your mental and physical health depend on it.

There’s nothing quite like the wide open road, am I right?

Well actually, a recent study commissioned by Harley-Davidson suggests there are quite a few things that are similar to riding your motorcycle, and they may not be what you’d expect.

For a while now, motorcyclists have talked up the positives of their ride-or-die habit. But it’s been difficult to know how accurate their feelings were.

“Until recently, the technology to rigorously measure the impact of activities like motorcycling on the brain didn’t exist,” Dr. Don Vaughn, a neuroscience postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the study’s research team leader, said in a press release.

But now, that technology does exist, so Vaughn was able to conduct his study. His results indicate that “riding increases attention by strengthening focus and heightening the brain’s passive monitoring of changes in the sensory environment while reducing the immediate stress response.”

So what does that mean? English, please.

Well, it appears that riding a motorcycle sharpens your alertness, much like “a cup of coffee,” according to the study. Sensory focus was also more acute for those on a motorcycle, compared to their colleagues in cars.

But the news gets even better for riders. Those who opt for a motorcycle over a car experience an increase in catecholamines and heart rate like occurs during light exercise.

Get out your leather jacket, because I’m not done yet: “Riding a motorcycle decreased hormonal biomarkers of stress by 28%,” according to a press release on the study.

“The research findings Dr. Vaughn and his team identified helps explain what our riders have felt for the past 116 years — there’s a vitality and heightened sensory experience that comes from the freedom of riding a motorcycle,” Heather Malenshek, Harley-Davidson’s senior vice president of marketing & brand, said in a press release. “We hope their findings inspire the next generation of riders to experience these benefits along with us.”

Get ready to rev your engines: It’s time to ride like your mental and physical health depend on it.

Alexandra Villarreal|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at avillarreal@theladders.com.