Swearing Aloud While You Exercise Can Make Your Muscles Stronger
Physically active people can influence their friends to end their sedentary lifestyle and start working out to improve their health through various exercise programs. Of course, simple exercise routines don't always yield the most promising results so people try to find unique ways to make their workouts more effective.
While some people turn to music or pair up with buddies to produce better results with their fitness activities, new research on psychology suggests that regularly swearing aloud during a workout routine works even better.
More Swearing, Less Pain
According to a previous research by Keele University psychologist Richard Stephens and his team, swearing makes the pain more tolerable. However, the researchers were unsure why swearing makes pain tolerable for people and they only guessed that it triggers our fight or flight response.
The researchers further hypothesized that if swearing makes pain more tolerable, it should also be able to make people stronger.
"I think people instinctively reach for swearwords when they hurt themselves and when they're looking for an extra boost in performance," Stephens said.
In order to test this hypothesis, Stephens's team gathered 81 participants who would perform physical tasks but found no physical indicators that connect swearing to the fight or flight response. What they found, however, was that regularly swearing really increases a person's performance during an intense workout.
The @#$&*!! Test
Stephens's team divided the participants into two groups that performed two different workout regimens.
The first test was composed of 29 people averaging 21 years of age who were instructed to undergo a short but intense cycling test. The second was composed of 52 people averaging 19 years of age who performed an isometric handgrip test.
Individuals were then made to choose a swear word, preferably the word they would shout out if they bang their head, or a neutral word they would use to describe a table.
"We asked them to repeat the word throughout each test. They don't scream and shout it. They repeat it in an even tone," Dr. Stephens said.
While the delivery of the swear words seems strange, it still delivered the results the team needed.
According to Stephens's team, the 30-second power cycling test showed a 4 percent increase in power in the swearing group versus the non-swearing group in the first five seconds. Likewise, there was a 2 percent overall increase in power for the swearing group in the entire half-minute test.
The second test also showed that the swearing group had an 8 percent stronger grip than the non-swearing group, leading the team to believe that swearing really does make people stronger.
Stephens clarified, however, that they are still at a loss as to why this happens since their data proved their original explanation false.
"The reason we ran this study was that we were anticipating this fight or flight response. But our data don't support that at all. So we don't really know," Stephens expressed.
Stephens reported the results of their research at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Brighton.