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Isn’t science grand?
Go ahead, drop that F-bomb—it might just get you over the crest. New research presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society reveals that swearing aloud increases strength.
The study, conducted at Keele University in England, compared the anaerobic cycling power of two groups: one puritanical, one filthy as f—well, you know. They found the group allowed to curse produced more power—on average, 24 more watts per 60 seconds.
The researchers then followed up with a test of strength using isometric handgrip squeezes. Once again, the swearing group came out stronger, boosting their strength by an average of eight percent over the non-swearing group.
The takeaway? When you need an extra boost (think a short surge in a race or the power to get to the crest of a steep hill), a curse word could be just the jetpack you need.
This builds on previous research from the same team of experts, who published a 2009 study on the analgesic effects of swearing. In it, they discovered that cursing can increase the ability to withstand more pain, for longer periods of time.
It’s not fully understood why swearing brings superpowers. Some hypothesize that swearing stimulates your body’s sympathetic nervous system, triggering a fight-or-flight response. Others say expletives might simply be a way to distract oneself from an uncomfortable stimulus. The Keele researchers are already planning follow-up studies to dig deeper.
But there’s a catch: The more we swear in daily life, the less potent the effects. So stop cursing out your coach and save that ish for when it really counts, like steep inclines, max efforts and the first 10 seconds of your ice bath.