Looking for a way to increase your endurance during workouts? We have the answer, and no. It’s not a new supplement or a hit of caffeine. It’s not even proper nutrition and rest. Nope. According to a new study, the way to increase strength and stamina during your sweat session is to swear while you’re doing it.
In a study out of the University of Keele in England, psychologists tested the power of swear words—versus more “neutral” words—on people using exercise bikes and on those testing grip strength. In both instances, those who cursed demonstrated increased strength. On average, grip strength was increased by 2.1 kilograms by saying expletives. And as for those on the exercise bike, swearing helped them increase peak power by an average of 24 watts.
“We know from our earlier research that swearing makes people more able to tolerate pain,” Dr. Richard Stephens, who led the study, told the Independent. “A possible reason for this is that it stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system—that’s the system that makes your heart pound when you are in danger. If that is the reason, we would expect swearing to make people stronger too, and that is just what we found in these experiments.”
You might be thinking it’s natural to pump out more energy when you’re excited or angry, which is when you’d likely be swearing. But there seems to be something to saying the words themselves, as participants were asked not to yell the curse words, but to say them in a “steady and clear voice.”
In fact, the researchers were surprised to see that swearing did not increase participants’ heart rates or other signs of a the “fight or flight” response. “It could be that it involves the pain relief effect we registered before,” said Stephens. “Pain perception and pain relief are quite complex things. Swear words have a distracting effect.”
Whatever the reason, you now officially have permission to let loose a four-letter word or two while you’re sweating it out on the treadmill.