Looking for a little adventure? Something new to explore? Then head out on the highway!
Dr. Pamela Reilly, a naturopathic doctor at the Good Works Wellness Research in Indianapolis, suggests taking up riding motorcycles. Rather than jumping on the “they’re so dangerous” bandwagon, Reilly believes that it’s a good form of low-impact exercise. She offers these six possible healthy outcomes:
Healthier, stronger knees and thighs. Orthopedic surgeons have noted that motorcycle riders have fewer knee problems because riding a bike strengthens key muscles used to hold the patella and other bones in the knee in place.
Improved core strength. All of the activities involved in steering a bike, moving it at slow speeds, etc., serve to strengthen muscles in the abdomen.
Increased insulin sensitivity. Motorcycle riding is a low-impact exercise, so riders have improved insulin sensitivity for up to eight hours after a ride, which in turn promotes weight loss.
Increased calorie burning. Yep, as a constant resistance exercise, riding a motorcycle burns calories. Reilly says riders can count on burning 600 calories per hour compared to the 200 to 300 the rest of us do.
Improved neck strength. If you wear a helmet and your bike has the correct handlebars, seat and foot pegs, riding can be as beneficial as a chiropractor visit. Reilly found that strengthening her own neck muscles in this way served to pull her neck vertebrae back into alignment and back into the proper curvature. The key is to get the adjustment correct; riding with a poor fit can cause back pain.
Better mental outlook. Riding a motorcycle releases the almighty endorphins that serve to boost mood and improve outlook. Time in the sun also ups your Vitamin D exposure, which is a mood enhancer.
Riding a motorcycle requires you to constantly move around on the bike, gripping with your thighs and knees. These movements strengthen your thighs and in turn, strengthen your knees.
The muscles in the thighs are used to keep the patella and other bones in the knee in place. Since the movements are low-impact, people who suffer knee or thigh pains describe riding a motorcycle as a kind of physical therapy.
For those lucky enough not to have those problems, riding can help you stay injury free.
The day after their first long ride, many motorcyclists report the same aches and pains – muscles in our necks are always at the top of the list. Wearing a helmet for a few hours a day would strengthen your neck regardless, throw windblast into the equation and you’ve got a real neck workout.
This is especially true for those who ride without a windshield.
You still need to make sure your motorcycle fits you correctly, as constantly cranking or straining your neck will have a negative impact in the long run.
Throw a leg over, fire up, and get ready to ride…
That feeling of pure joy after a long ride, something every motorcyclist can relate to. The reason we feel so happy is pretty simple; every twist of the wrist releases adrenaline which, in turn, releases endorphins. These ‘feel good’ hormones improve our mood, increase pleasure and minimize pain.
So, endorphins give us that joyous feeling but, after a ride, there’s also that sense of relief, like a weight has been lifted.
This is similar to mindfulness meditation: Body position, speed, road position – on a motorcycle you’re constantly analyzing and adjusting depending on the situation. This ties us into the present moment, and means our minds have no room for worries about money, jobs or any other day-to-day problems.
You’re fully engaged while riding. This is why your mind is like a blank slate when you throw your leg off after a long ride.