Think your Arctic Cat or CanAm UTV is just for kicks? A recent study by the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV), All-Terrain Quad Council of Canada (AQCC) and Motorcyclist Confederation of Canada (MCC) revealed that riding ATVs is actually incredibly beneficial to your health. Coming out of York University, the study proves what ATVers and off-roaders have known for years: Hitting the trails is great for your body, mind and spirit. Led by researchers at York University’s Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Unit, the goal was to track the physiological requirements of off-roading using “typical conditions.”It was found that 14 percent of ATV riders and 38 percent of ORM (off-road machine) riders achieve an intensity that’s on par with aerobic fitness. Why drag yourself to a step class when you could just head to the trails? The researchers noted that “Riding on a representative course also led to muscular fatigue, particularly in the upper body.” In other words, you don’t need a weight room in order to achieve guns like Arnold.Looking and Feeling Good on the TrailsAccording to researcher Jamie Burr, getting on your ATV is an “alternative” workout that “can be effective for achieving beneficial changes in health and fitness.” Driving a UTV requires metabolic demands, muscular strength and burns an impressive amount of calories without riders even realizing it. It’s been compared to alpine skiing, golf and rock climbing by the researchers in terms of intensity. “Being out on the trails is not only fun, but contributes to individual and family well-being and fitness,” say the researchers.The research results meet the requirements of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Health Canada when it comes to aerobic fitness. Next up for the researchers is probing deeper into key health characteristics and ATVing, such as back fitness, lifestyle characteristics, body composition and musculoskeletal fitness. Backed by some of the biggest brands in the industry such as Honda, Polaris, Yamaha and Kawasaki, COHV says this is a groundbreaking study that addresses concerns by non-ATVers that off-roading isn’t as “healthy” as other recreational activities.It’s All in the DetailsThe study first began in 2007 via a Canadian national survey of 310 off-roaders. The second phase of the study focused on 128 riders, both male and female, starting at the age of 16. Riders utilized their own gear, but used special helmets and other gadgets to monitor heart rate, fatigue, exertion, oxygen consumption and muscular involvement. Riders enjoyed a boost in oxygen consumption by up to six times, and the heart rate monitors revealed that riding reached the levels of “hard exercise” largely thanks to an adrenaline spike.Plus, you can’t argue the stress-relieving benefits of riding. There’s no comparison between a great ride and a couple of hours trudging along on an elliptical when it comes to stress reduction.