Use it or lose it! Left unattended physical fitness declines over time. Even if you’re in peak shape going into winter hibernation, you’ll lose strength, stamina, and mobility without regular exercise.
Don’t despair. There are things you can do to halt physical decline and rebuild strength. The right fitness program will improve performance, help prevent harm, and help you recover faster if you are injured.
Keeping active and fit means you’ll be ready to go as soon as spring fever hits!
6 Reasons For Riders to Maintain Fitness
Muscle Strength. Riders need strong leg, core, back, and shoulder muscles. Your legs help you change your body position and control the bike. Core muscles support your body so you can free up your arms for steering and operating the controls. Strong muscles maintain balance.
Muscle strength peaks around age 25. After that you loose two to three percent of muscle mass each year. Resistance training can restore muscle strength to a noticeable difference in four to six weeks. Unfortunately, you’ll experience a noticeable decline within the same timeframe. That’s less than most of us are away from riding between seasons.
Bone Strength. Bones are our framework. They protect our brain and other vital organs, make blood cells, store crucial nutrients, and give us our shape. Propelled by the muscles that attach to them, they’re essential for movement. Strong bones are less likely to be injured while riding, or falling.
Bones are strongest and densest around age 30. Bone mass peaks slightly later in men than women, but bone density in both genders eventually declines, albeit at different rates and ages. It’s difficult to strengthen bones after you’ve lost bone mass.
A fragility-related fracture may be the first sign of osteoporosis so it’s important to keep bones healthy and vibrant. Weight-bearing exercises and adequate intake of calcium and Vitamin D will keep bones healthy longer.
Weight. A quick check in the mirror will illustrate that even if the scales haven’t changed over time, your muscle to fat ratio has.
Carrying excess fat affects our cardiovascular health, endurance, and flexibility, all needed for safe riding. Maintain your ideal weight level and body mass index for optimal health.
Riding with excess weight of any type, including body fat, means more load to manage, and more momentum if you crash.
Grip strength. We make big demands from the small muscles we depend on for operating the controls. Our left hand is more prone to fatigue from frequent clutch use in urban riding, stop and go traffic, and trail riding.
Grip will benefit from any weight training because you have to hold the weights. Squeezing a tennis ball or using hand exercisers with individual springs for each finger target hands and fingers.
Flexibility and Mobility. Full range of motion helps us manage the motorcycle, react to changes, and maneuver while riding or moving it in your garage. Increasing flexibility means more mobility and free movement on our motorcycle.
Most of us live and work in a convenient environment. At work our computers communicate with colleagues or clients in the next cubicle or across the world, while we sit in our chair. Once we’re home, we operate our TV, radio, or thermostat from another chair. Our sedentary lifestyle means we’re not moving enough to maintain our flexibility.
Endurance. Cardiovascular strength plays a role in our ability to ride well. Being fit reduces physical fatigue, which extends the length of time we can ride, and affects how we feel at the end of the day. Physical fatigue leads to mental lapses, which can be catastrophic on a motorcycle.
8 Ways To Burn Calories, and Increase Flexibility and Strength.
Movement. Get up and move around throughout your day. Walk down the hall to see a colleague rather than messaging. Take stairs instead of an elevator. Park further away from buildings so you’re forced to walk. Walk the dog. Walk or bike instead of using your car whenever possible.
Stretching exercises. Sitting for most of the day means our hip flexors, calf, chest, and shoulder and neck muscles, the ones we need for riding, get tight. Maintain your flexibility for riding with stretching exercises that target those muscles. See links below for specific exercises.
Yoga. A regular practice encompassing a variety of poses can increase flexibility, balance, strength, and build muscles.
Strength training. Maintain healthy bones and strong muscles with resistance training, using weights. See links below for specific exercises.
Cardio exercises. Challenge yourself with jogging or brisk walking, outdoors, on a treadmill, or on an indoor track. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are excellent for building cardio strength.
Diet. The extra pounds that sneak up on us during the cold weather are a lot harder to take off than put on. Maintain a nutritious, balanced diet of reasonable portions.
Small challenges every day. Your body will adapt to your level of fitness over time, which means you need to challenge yourself that much more to get the same benefit.
Persistence and patience. If you haven’t been exercising consistently, it will take time to build muscle, strength, and endurance, and lose weight. Start slow and build up. The good news is, you can do it from any age. Just start.
Physical fitness makes you safer, less prone to injuries, less fatigued, and more alert. You can ride longer and reduce the risk of injuries or damaging your motorcycle.
Adventure Rider Radio Episodes with Specific Fitness Techniques
Motorcycle Fitness: Simple Solutions to Get Fit
A Scientist, a Racer, a Pillion, and a Long Distance Rider: On Staying Alert (Listen to the first segment)
Flexible Motorcycle Travel