Two wheels can make you happy – and smarter!

Throttle of a motorbike

When asked “to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile”, the most number of strong positive responses came for motorcycling. The survey also included a well being index, and again most motorcyclists gave strong positive responses.

Keeping busy with any pastime is important – when asked if they were happy yesterday, 80 per cent of active people said yes compared with 57 per cent of those who described themselves as inactive. Of those with no hobbies, only 55% were satisfied with their lives.

So – those of us who keep active, and venture out on two wheels into the great outdoors are happier…. But, the scientist who invented “Brain Age,” a popular mental training game for the Nintendo DS, discovered that riding motorcycles may also improve cognitive function!

Ryuta Kawashima partnered with Yamaha Japan and Tohoku University in 2009 to study the effects of motorcycle riding on middle-aged men), finding:

“In a convenient and easy environment, the human mind and body get used to setting the hurdle low.

"Our final conclusion is that riding motorcycles can lead to smart ageing.”  

22 men in their 40s and 50s who had motorcycle licenses but had not ridden for at least a decade were used for the study. Half rode everyday for two months, while the other half didn’t. The two groups were given a series of tests before and after that period. “The group that rode motorbikes posted higher marks in cognitive function tests,” Kawashima said.

One test had the group attempt to remember a set of numbers in reverse order. The motorcyclists improved their scores by more than 50% after the two months while the non-riders’ scores decreased. The motorcyclists also reported making fewer mistakes at work and generally feeling “happier.”

Because riding a motorcycle requires a high level of alertness and rapid problem solving, Kawashima found, “the driver’s brain gets activated by riding motorbikes.”

There you have it – if you believe all you read, motorcycling will keep you young, happy, and smart!

Digby Brown's specialist motorcycle team are on Twitter, follow them @BikeLawScotland

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