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Zero to Zen: The Health Benefits of Motorcycling

Good Vibrations & the Road to Wellness

by Gary Mraz

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Naysayers are quick to spout the dangers of motorcycling but friends, and countrymen lend me your helmetless ears. The psychological and emotional benefits of riding are real. The sense of freedom, thrill of acceleration, escaping the confines of convention, are all real and any rider will confirm that. Motorcycle riding also has physical health benefits. What are these you ask? Vibration, yes folks that purr of an internal combustion V-Twin over the road helps in so many ways. 

My yoga teacher here in Sedona espouses the benefits of vibrations and OOOMMM does have a nice low note. Much scientific research has gone into the study of electro-acoustic vibration. All things vibrate. Motorcycling stimulates blood flow expanding the capillaries creating a tingling feeling. My girlfriend has confirmed the latter.

During this last year of sequestration, I’ve driven my Twin-Processor (P-Twin) customized hi-rez video flat screen desktop computer more than my motorcycle, and I have developed a mild form of carpel tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive mousing side-to-side wrist motion.  (Draw cartoon character mousing left to right at a computer (with a helmet on)

My doctors, “Davidson Prescription,” purports that a motorcycles hand throttle and braking action require the exact opposite up-down wrist twisting motion.  (Draw character on a bike hand-throttling up and down)

Exercising this opposing motion coupled with vibration (that stimulating blood flow expanding the capillaries business) actually reduces carpel tunnel problems, farfetched? This is Rx approved therapy my friends!

Driving the P-Twin desktop also requires endless up and down keyboard/screen forward facing head motions. (Remember the cartoon character)

Constant and extreme left and right head movements of motorcycling again, require the exact opposite movements. Eyeing soccer mom texting in a SUV drifting in from the left while assessing exit strategies between Big Rigs on the right, this contrary motion coupled with vibration help alleviate stiff-neck tension.

What about that achin' back? Even though the seat of my computers P-Twin desktop has lumbar support and cushy mesh fabrics, still I’m hunched over with my face in a monitor soaking up radiation like hot pockets in a microwave.  

Sitting on my motorcycles saddle actually demands a spinal alignment that would make my yoga teacher proud. Coupled with those excellent vibrations, Chakras wide open and chanting Harley Krishna Harley Krishna.

Moto Yoga
So, while you’re out soakin up all these good vibes my yoga teacher has also has given me exercises to do while riding. Since we just sit for hours at a time on our motorcycles why not do something that promotes better health?

Muscle Tension: Shoulders, neck and back get tense sitting on the bike and these exercises can really help loosen you up.

1. Shoulder Release: Bring you shoulders up to your neck and squeeze tightly then just release. Do this a dozen times and its instant neck and shoulder relief.

2. Shoulder Rolls: Roll both shoulders forward in a circular motion several times then reverse the motion several times

3. Lower Back: She has a stretch called round the world that’s perfect while riding. While holding the handlebars make wide circular motions forward and backwards from the waist, then reverse several times.

You can check these out on YouTube video link:

Breathing Techniques: Strangely enough I breathe completely different while riding. I hold my breath while accelerating onto the freeway, changing lanes or passing BigRigs. Also, with all the wind in my face I seem to breathe sporadically. Breath Awareness is profoundly simple technique that will increase your overall sense of wellbeing and enjoyment of the present moment.

1. Visualize your heart, this centers your body rhythms.

2. Slow your breath down, taking long deep breathing in and out through your nose.

3. Tune into the sound of the wind in your helmet, hear the air flow, feel your breathing pattern.

4. Breathe in and out with a rhythm your heart, i.e., one breath every four beats.
Breath Awareness has proven health benefits of lowering your stress and improving your focus. It will actually create more consistent intervals between the heart beats and breathe which is said to raise your immune system response and bring you back into a state of peaceful alertness.

Hydrate Yourself. Keep a water bottle holder on your bike within easy reach. Invariably I’ll look down and remember to drink. Stay hydrated.

Snack While Riding:  We tend to push ourselves to the destination then attack our food like a hungry wolf.  Keep a magnetic tank bag or power bars easily assessable and have one every hour or so. More calories are burnt per hour riding a motorcycle than having sex so with water, food combined with some stretching exercise you really can ride towards better health. I stand up on my floorboards to stretch my legs, you’ll feel better, less tense and more refreshed. As you know this is sketchy like in dangerous, so I stretch and do squats at gas stops.

Legal Disclaimer: I of course have absolutely no medical proof whatsoever to support any of these claims. I just feel better overall when I ride so if you’re feelin kinda tight, I prescribe Kozmo’s Zero to Zen resolution to feel better, lose weight and have fun: all you have to do is ride more!
Click for a copy.
Click for a copy.

Editor's Note:  There is so much more to what the Spiritual One has mentioned. Anything that causes extreme focus is a form of meditation. Tearing around bends in the brilliant sunlight includes taking in vitamin D, and we need it. Focus on all the muscle groups working during a hard ride through Monument Valley. Other than sitting on your ass, all your senses are pumping and multiple muscle groups are aware and active. Ride Fast and Free Forever.

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