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Swearing gives you extra strength: study

Press Association logoPress Association 5/05/2017

Muscle strength and stamina can be boosted by letting out a few profanities, a study has found.

Swearing may help a cyclist struggling up hill to summon extra pedal power, or give a boost needed to free a stubborn bolt or jammed bottle top.

Psychologists conducted tests in which volunteers had to swear before intense sessions on an exercise bike or squeezing a device that measures hand grip strength.

In both experiments, rude swearing led to significant improvements in performance compared with uttering "neutral" words.

"Quite why it is that swearing has these effects on strength and pain tolerance remains to be discovered," researcher Dr Richard Stephens from the University of Keele said.

"We have yet to understand the power of swearing fully,"

The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society's annual meeting at Brighton.

In the first experiment, 29 volunteers with an average age of 21 pedalled hard on an exercise bike for half a minute while repeating a swear word or a neutral word.

Peak power was increased by an average 24 watts by swearing, the scientists found.

A second experiment found swearing boosted grip strength by 2.1 kilograms on average.

"Swearing seems to be a form of emotional language. Perhaps it's the emotional effect of the words that leads to the distraction, but this is just speculation at the moment," Dr Stephens said.

The study followed earlier work showing swearing increases pain tolerance, helping explain the common reaction to hitting one's thumb with a hammer.

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