KEELE, United Kingdom — Need an extra jolt of strength of at the gym? Try shouting some obscenities (as long as you won’t get kicked out), a new study suggests.
Researchers at Keele University found that people who swore while completing an exercise exhibited greater power than those who didn’t.
The team, led by Dr. Richard Stephens, had 29 people take part in a rigorous ride on an exercise bike, and 52 people complete an isometric handgrip test — which involves squeezing a device known as a dynamometer to measure the strength of the hand and forearm. The participants were instructed to complete their exercise twice, once after swearing and another time with no swearing.
Those who swore were able to bike with more power and demonstrated greater strength on the handgrip test than those who didn’t.
“We know from our earlier research that swearing makes people more able to tolerate pain. A possible reason for this is that it stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system – that’s the system that makes you heart pound when you are in danger,” says Stephens in a university press release.
“If that is the reason, we would expect swearing to make people stronger too – and that is just what we found in these experiments, he adds. “But when we measured heart rate and some other things you would expect to be affected if the sympathetic nervous system was responsible for this increase in strength, we did not find significant changes.”
The researchers were not able to determine the cause-and-effect of the results, and Stephens suggests “the power of swearing” be fully examined in future studies.