Riding a motorcycle is a physically demanding activity, even though it doesn’t look like it on the surface. Motorcycling places demands on every part of the body, but especially the core, legs and hands. So, focusing on conditioning exercises that target those areas makes a lot of sense and will make riding more pleasant – and can extend your riding day.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) has a lot to say about fitness in general. Specifically, their 2015 recommendations for adults 18 to 64 state:
- All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
- For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
- For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
- Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Translated for motorcyclists, and paying attention to our goal of strengthening the core, legs and hands, here are some suggested exercises and/or regimens:
- Core: Pilates is one of the best exercise routines to build core strength, flexibility and stamina. If you’re the kind of biker who likes to join others during exercise, seek out a Pilates studio or a class at a local gym. If you prefer to work out in private, consider using a Pilates website like Pilates Anytime, or try on your own with the do-it-yourself beginner’s Pilates program from Calorie Bee.
- Legs: The best low impact exercise for your legs is one of the simplest and that’s walking. You don’t need any special equipment or instruction. Just get out of your chair, go outside and walk for 30 minutes every day, minimum. Follow the USDHHS’s recommendations, and make sure that you’re walking for at least 10 minute chunks if you can’t find time to do 30 minutes straight. That way, you’ll be sure to get aerobic benefits (building stamina) as well as building strength.
- Hands: Many of us neglect our hands when we exercise. As motorcyclists, our hands are put to the test, especially when using the clutch and braking. The more hand strength and stamina you have, the more control you will have when pulling in and releasing the clutch and brake levers. How do you exercise your hands? WebMD has a great slideshow that demonstrates 10 Hand and Finger Exercises. For even more grip strength work, pick up a hand grip strengthener, which is basically two rods connected by a hinge with a tight spring. These run from $5 up to $50 or more. A simple one is best – just make sure that you get one with the right resistance for your hand strength.
While you are on the road, don’t neglect your body. Eat sensibly while you travel, and take time to get off the bike and walk to explore your destination. Ask a clerk at your Best Western hotel for a good walking route, and they’ll be happy to share their insights and suggestions. Some Best Western hotels even offer complimentary fitness centers – check bestwestern.com for details while booking.
Get into shape, and get more from your motorcycle travel experience!