Joy riding may not be the right term for a growing number of older, male motorcycle enthusiasts.

A new Canadian study found that the rates of motorcycle injuries among men aged 45 to 74 have doubled over the past decade, and the cost of treating them in hospital has also gone up 61 per cent.

The new stats come as the number of older male motorcycle riders quickly rises.

Millions of men across North America are buying motorcycles later in life, like Ralph Thompson, 68, of Kingston, Ont.

“It is being outdoors and being kind of free to bounce through the landscape and experience it,” said Thompson.

But Thompson understands the risks that come with older age and risky hobbies like motorcycling.

“You know, our reflexes are not as good and maybe sometimes our balance is not quite good so we have to be more careful,” he said.

Mariana Brussoni, of the University of British Columbia, led the study, which was published in the BC Medical Journal.

“These results are quite concerning because when we see a significant upswing like this, we want to make sure we can do what we can to prevent these injuries,” said Brussoni.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Richard Simons said older people don't heal as well or as quickly as younger people, meaning possible further injury.

“There is less flexibility in the bones and that is certainly true of the spine, so it is at higher risk of fracturing,” said Simons. “And that is also true of the chest, which in younger people is quite springy. But in older people, it tends to fracture and those ribs then cause injury to internal organs.”

But Brussoni says older male motorcycle enthusiasts don’t have to give up their hobby – they just need to take the right precautions. Researchers suggest getting lessons, wearing protective gear and only riding in good weather.

“We never tell people to give something up it really is about keeping them safe,” said Brussoni.

With files from CTV News’ medical correspondent Avis Favaro and senior producer Elizabeth St. Philip