Swearing While Exercising Makes You Stronger

By Gary Cutlack on at

That internal voice you have that swears at everything all the time like your life is a Quentin Tarantino movie but without so much sexy foot action? It's helping. It's helping you to exercise better according to scientists, who found that muttering and continually saying rude words elevates physical performance.

Calling your bike a wanker and abusing the potholes really works, according to psychologist Richard Stephens from Keele University. His tests involved asking cyclists to ride while swearing to themselves, and found that, on average, power output increased by 24 Watts as a result. A similar test of people squeezing a hand grip while spouting obscenities found that their squeezing power increased by around 2.1kg. It works. It really BLOOMING WELL RUDDY works.

The British Psychological Society assembled a fantastic interview with Stephens about the subject and how his research came about:

The great news is that you don't have to shout your obscenities to feel the benefit. Mumbling them under your breath appears to work just as well, as Keefe's tests only asked subjects to say the bad words in a quiet, even tone, like a composed killer, while performing their tasks.

Stephens said: "We're not telling people something they don’t already know, but we’re verifying that in a systematic and objective way. I think people instinctively reach for swearwords when they hurt themselves and when they’re looking for an extra boost in performance." [British Psychological Society via Guardian]

More Science Posts: