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Is riding a motorcycle good for your mental health?

We all feel better after we've thrown a leg over our favourite machine, but is riding a motorcycle really good for our mental health?

The answer could surprise you.

Two recent studies give us some insight.

neurobiological study

A recent study* by UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior got up close and personal with more than 50 experienced motorcyclists.

Using mobile EEG technology, they implemented the passive auditory oddball paradigm (now there's a phrase you don't hear every day) and measured the motorcyclists’ brain activity and heart rate, as well as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol levels as they were riding.

How cool is that?!

Data showed that motorcycle riding gave stress-reduction results similar to light exercise. (Hmm, does this mean we don't need to go running anymore?)

In a nutshell:

  • Stress biomarkers reduced by 25%.

  • Sensory focus was enhanced (similar to meditation).

  • Alertness was increased (equivalent to drinking a cup of coffee).

The differences when riding a motorcycle compared to doing other activities was quite pronounced, researchers said, which could be significant for mitigating everyday stresses.

more stats

An Australian study** found:

"Almost half (48%) of the motorcycling respondents say riding a motorcycle is a form of mindfulness that helps them de-stress, 41% say they love the sense of freedom that comes with riding and more than a third (34%) enjoy the fresh air and taking in nature."

We can definitely relate to that. So what does this mean for our happiness?

"Motorcyclists are 27% happier than the average motorist."

Hey, that's pretty good! Not that it's a competition. :)

And what did we think of the biker lifestyle?

"More than half (51%) of motorcycle riders surveyed said the positive mental health effects of riding was the top reason for them choosing the biker lifestyle."

So there you have it - your gut instinct now has hard data to back it up.

Which means throwing a leg over, finding some sweet curvy roads and maybe having a deeper conversation with your mates, can all be done in the name of looking after your mental health.

Keep the shiny side up.

Cheers, Bridget and Alan

* Study conducted by UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and sponsored by Harley-Davidson. The study was published in Brain Research on 2 March 2021.

** Study conducted by YouGov and commissioned by ING in August 2020. The sample comprised 1,006 Australians aged 18+ years distributed throughout Australia.


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