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Why driving can provide psychological benefits

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Is driving good for your mental health? Porsche, which, granted, has a vested interest in the concept, found one person making strong arguments for the psychological benefits of driving.

Professor Lynne Pearce teaches literary and cultural theory at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. The daughter of a mechanic and garage owner, she’s written extensively on the benefits of driving, including the book “Drivetime: Literary Excursions in Automotive Consciousness.”

“Whenever I get into the car I feel a sense of relief,” Pearce said in a statement. “My body relaxes, and I looked forward to the uninterrupted time I have to think.”

In her book, Pearce talks about using long drives (she has made an 800-mile trip between her childhood home in Cornwall, England, and current home in Glasgow, Scotland, for decades) to work out issues both personal and professional.

“Since the early days of motoring, psychologists have been interested in the fact that driving—as well as being one of the most complex, everyday tasks—is also one that frees up parts of the brain to think productively,” Pearce said.

It’s now “widely understood” that it’s possible to work through other thoughts while driving because the brain’s central executive remains alert, she said. That’s why it’s harder to focus on other things during more challenging situations, such as driving in bad weather, she added.

Why driving can provide psychological benefits
Professor Lynne Pearce discusses the psychological benefits of driving

At the same time, driving can also help alleviate mental distress because it gives the brain something else to focus on, she said. While driving fast can be “exhilarating,” Pearce said she feels a slower pace can be under appreciated.

“I love to use the minor roads close to where I live and driving slowly enables me to bond much more closely with the environment.”

We’re all for the bonding, but we also like having more driving fun on B roads, which we think is also good for the soul.

This article was originally published by Motor Authority, an editorial partner of ClassicCars.com.

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