How Motorcycle Riding Improves Physical Health
Healthier , stronger knees and thighs : A well-known orthopaedic surgeon in Indy once told me 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 . He told me that riding a motorcycle may reverse knee pain and problems and can most definitely prevent them . Most of the key muscles used to hold knee bones in place reside in the thigh . Ever notice that chicks that ride bikes have nice thighs ? There ’ s a reason ! Additionally , backing a bike into a parking spot , especially uphill , is basically like doing leg presses with a 600 pound weight . It works !.
Improved core strength : Again , all of the activities involved in steering a bike , moving it at slow speeds , etc ., serve to strengthen muscles in the abdomen . It ’ s more fun that situps !!.
Increased insulin sensitivity : Because riding a motorcycle is a low-impact form of exercise , people who ride have improved insulin sensitivity for up to eight hours after a ride . Improved insulin sensitivity has a profound impact on weight loss , because insulin is a fat storage hormone . Having improved insulin sensitivity means your body will produce less insulin to counteract carbohydrates or to lower blood sugars , which means your body will be signalled to store less fat . The improved insulin sensitivity is also of great importance to anyone with Type 2 diabetes . ( See my post , Diabetes and the Art of Motorcycle Riding for info on how riding a bike significantly lowers blood glucose levels .).
Calorie burning : Riding a bike burns calories . Period . Getting everything ready for a ride takes time and burns calories , but there ’ s more . Think about it … it requires effort while riding to maintain balance , shift , brake , control the clutch , battle headwinds , etc ., and that ’ s AFTER you burn calories backing the bike out of the garage ! Riding into a headwind burns a significant amount of calories as your body tenses muscles to fight the wind and stay on the bike . This constant resistance exercise not only burns calories but serves to strengthens those muscles , which ultimately increases your metabolism . Additionally , the physical effort exerted while turning , especially at higher speeds , can be significant . Folks who ride motocross or race motorcycles can burn up to 600 calories per hour ; the rest of us burn around 200-300 calories per hour . Not bad ! ( Note to passengers : You burn zero calories per hour while riding passenger on a cruiser , and potentially up to 50 calories per hour while riding passenger on a sport bike . Maybe it ’ s time to consider getting your own bike !)
Improved neck strength : This one is limited to those riders who wear helmets and those who have taken the time to properly fit themselves to their bike with the correct handle bars , seat , foot pegs , etc . Riding a bike that doesn ’ t “ fit ” well can actually cause back pain and destroy proper alignment . Make sure your bike fits you ! Wearing a helmet for a few hours a day would strengthen your neck whether you ride or not . Wearing it while riding , especially if you don ’ t have a windshield to shelter you from the wind , requires significant strength . I ’ m happy to say , much to my chiropractor ’ s chagrin , I was able to reverse whiplash simply by riding my bike and wearing a helmet . ( I never ride without one .) Strengthening my neck muscles served to pull my neck vertebrae back into alignment and back into the proper curvature . That is a therapy I can live with !!!.
Mental outlook : Motorcycle riders usually report returning from a ride feeling energized and happy . Many riders refer to their motorcycle as their “ therapist .” Riding a motorcycle has a wonderful way of releasing endorphins that serve to boost mood and improve outlook . The time spent on a bike also provides valuable sun exposure , known to increase Vitamin D levels which are known to be powerful mood enhancers . Additionally , the hours of alone time spent on the back of a bike either allows folks to completely escape from their problems or allows them to work through problems and consider issues from different perspectives . I know more than one rider who hops on their bike and takes a ride when they have an issue needing consideration . ( This does not , of course , apply to issues causing great distress .)
That ’ s it ! Riding a motorcycle has definite health advantages , both physical and emotional . As always , ride smart . Get thoroughly trained before starting to ride and then take time to practice on back roads before hitting main thoroughfares . Take your time and don ’ t try to beat lights or get in front of slow drivers . As always , NEVER drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs . Even one beer can affect reaction time enough to impair shifting , clutch operation and turning ability . Just don ’ t do it .
Written by : Dr . Pamela Reilly , Naturopathic Doctor at Good Works Wellness Research , LLC http :// goodworkswellness . com / how-motorcycle-riding-improves-physical-health /