Motorcycling is good for you, says study funded by Harley-Davidson

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You hear all sorts of jokes and see Internet memes talking about how motorcycling is good for your health, but according to a study by UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, it’s true: motorcycling really is good for your mental and physical well-being.

The study, funded by Harley-Davidson, found riding a motorcycle “increased metrics of focus and attention, and decreased relative levels of cortisol, a hormonal marker of stress.” In other words, motorcycling helps you pay attention, and feel less stressed.

To perform the study, three researchers studied brain activity and hormone levels for people driving a car, resting, and riding a motorcycle, and compared their results. When they were riding, the subjects studied exhibited better focus and more resistance to distraction, as well as increased heart rate (up 11 per cent) and adrenaline levels (up 27 per cent).

They also showed a decrease in cortisol levels, indicating stress reduction. Overall, the study showed a 28 per cent drop in hormonal markers of stress.

The study examined 50 experienced motorcyclists, using mobile EEG technology to record their biomarkers. The whole study will be released later on this year. And, if you’re all depressed right now because you haven’t been out motorcycling, take note of these words from the press release: “Changes in study participants’ brain activity while riding suggested an increase in alertness similar to drinking a cup of coffee.” If a winter off two wheels has got you feeling really bummed out, then maybe a cup of coffee can help?


  1. Sure, motorcycling is good for your physical well being if you don’t count the fact that you’re 33% more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than in an automobile accident.

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