Cover your ears, Mom.
A recent study shows that cursing aloud can boost physical performance, strength and power.
The study, published in the Journal of Psychology of Sports and Exercise, showed that swearing produced a 4.6 percent increase in initial power during a 30-second stationary bicycling test, and an 8.2 percent increase in a maximum hand grip strength test.
That boost in performance isn’t just dependent on a stress response arising from the shock value of the swearing, either, says David K. Spierer of Long Island University, one of the study’s authors.
“We know that swearing appears to be handled in brain regions not usually associated with language processing,” Spierer said in a press release. “It is possible that activation of these areas by swearing could produce performance improvements across many different domains.”
Cursing might allow people to shut down their inhibitions and veil pain, he said.
“Using swear words might be helpful in any circumstance where muscle strength and a sudden burst of force or speed is required,” he said.
Which maybe explains the grunting and cussing you hear in weight rooms, I might add.
To conduct the study, the researchers asked participants to suggest a swear word they might use in response to banging their head accidentally. Those in the non-swearing trial suggested a much less flamboyant word used to describe a table.
Based on previous studies that show the beneficial effects of swearing in the context of physical pain, the study’s authors expected to see elevated heart rate and blood pressure correlate with the improvement in physical performance.
That’s not what they found.
Spierer and Richard Stephens of Keele University, the other author of the study, have launched a second study to look at the effect of swearing on activities found in most exercise programs.
Go here to learn more – and buy a T-shirt or hat that will fund more swearing research (and promote breast cancer awareness.)
If this seems like free rein to let the cuss words fly, go wash your mouth out with soap. It’s still not polite to drop an f-bomb in public.