How is motorcycling the ultimate stress reducer?
Motorcyclists have long expressed that going for a ride is a stress reducing experience and essential for their mental wellness. But, when you’re vulnerably propelling yourself along the street without airbags or a car frame to protect yourself, how is it that people call motorcycling “throttle therapy?” Moto enthusiasts cite lots of aspects about riding that are stress reducing, but I theorize that one of the strongest factors is the very stance you assume when you get on the motorcycle.
The Mind-Body Connection
Riding a bike forces your body into an open and strong posture, it is impossible to do it with your arms crossed or with other closed body language. Scientists have long studied the connection between the mind and body, and more recently have cited that the mind can follow suit and change our internal chemistry according to physical queues. Thanks to recent innovations in neuroscience, we can now rigorously measure these effects on the brain. This is the basis of social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s book Presence, where she advocates for the instant hormone balancing qualities of power posing. Adopting a powerful and competent stance, like you’re obligated to do while riding a motorcycle, triggers the brain to reduce the production of cortisol and increase the production of testosterone. Cortisol is the hormone related most closely to stress and anxiety. Appropriate levels of cortisol lands someone in the optimal performance zone, homing in on focus, reaction time, decision making, and precision. As motorcyclists we all know how life saving being at peak performance and alertness can be.