WTF?! Swearing could actually make you stronger

Find it hard to get through a heavy weights session without effing and blinding? If you’re sick of trying to bite your tongue, you’ll be pleased to hear you might have the right idea after all with new research showing that swearing may actually boost your physical strength.

The Keele University study looked at two groups of participants. One was instructed to pedal vigorously on an exercise bike for 30 seconds and the other to perform an isometric hand-grip test.

They carried out the activity while repeating a swear word in “an even tone”. They then carried out the same activity while uttering a neutral phrase like “wooden or “brown.”

The cyclists who cursed saw their peak power rise by 24 watts on average. Meanwhile, those who were testing their grip while uttering profanities found that their strength rose by 2.1 kgs.

The findings help show that swearing is more than simply colourful language.

Previous research shows that swearing makes people more able to tolerate pain.

How so?

Possibly by stimulating the body’s sympathetic nervous system – a reaction that could also have the effect of increasing strength.

That connection is still not 100% however. The sympathetic nervous system would also impact heart rate variability, skin conductance and blood pressure if it was behind the strength spike. The current research doesn’t support this.

“So quite why it is that swearing has these effects on strength and pain tolerance remains to be discovered,” Keele’s Dr Richard Stephens told the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Brighton, UK earlier this week.

“We have yet to understand the power of swearing fully.”

But if you swear like a pirate, what better excuse to let your foul mouth run wild. Get to a gym, stat!


Do you let your potty mouth run wild in the gym?

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Journo turned fitness professional, passionate about helping people to live a healthier and happier life! A long way from London, I now call Sydney home.

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