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Swearing can boost muscle strength and stamina, scientists claim

Mirror logo Mirror 5/05/2017 Andrew Gregory

Gordon Ramsay in an episode of HELLS KITCHEN © FOX via Getty Images Gordon Ramsay in an episode of HELLS KITCHEN Swearing can give your muscle strength and stamina a boost, psychologists claim.

A few expletives could help you open a stubborn jar or give you extra pedal power when cycling uphill, they found.

In tests, volunteers who swore before exercise performed better than those saying “neutral” words instead.

The swearers were told to utter the word they would shout if they got a bang on the head, but using a steady tone of voice. Common examples were “f--k” and “s--t”.

The study of 81 people followed up earlier work that showed how swearing increases pain tolerance, helping explain the common reaction to hitting one’s thumb with a hammer.

Dr Richard Stephens of Keele University, who led the study, said swearing may stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which makes your heart pound when faced with danger.

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He said: “We know from our earlier research that swearing makes people more able to tolerate pain.

“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.”

Surprisingly, increases in heart rate and other expected changes linked to the “fight or flight” response were not seen in the latest tests.

Dr Stephens added: “Quite why it is that swearing has these effects on strength and pain tolerance remains to be discovered. We have yet to understand the power of swearing fully.”

The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual meeting taking place in Brighton.

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