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Good News, Potty Mouths! Swearing While Exercising Makes You Stronger

We all know a good swear session can cure just about anything. But researchers have discovered that it also has the potential to make you stronger when you do it while exercising.

According to Newsweek, “researchers found that uttering profanities increased physical performance by up to eight percent, apparently by making [study participants] more tolerant of the pain.”


Well, Richard Stephens of Keele University, UK thinks that when people swear, they are not only able to better cope with pain or exertion, but they also are able to do it for longer.

To test his hypothesis, a group of scientists enlisted 29 participants to engage in cycling for a short but intense period. Some of the participants repeated a swear word of their choice during the exercise while others repeated a neutral word. Stephens noted, “On one measure of power in the first five seconds, it was a four percent increase in the swearing vs non swearing group, then across the full 30 seconds it was about two percent increase.”

In a second study, scientists enlisted 52 participants to engage in a handgrip test with similar results: those who repeated a swear word showed an 8 percent increase in grip strength versus those who did not.

Still, Stephens says they’re not quite sure the exact reason swearing seems to help increase strength during exercise, though researchers maintain it likely has something to do with their initial idea that it helps control pain:

It could be to do with pain tolerance. If you look at pain literature there are many different strategies people can employ to reduce pain perception. Even distracting somebody can reduce pain—if you were getting pain relief then that might allow you to perform better.

From personal experience, I know that swearing definitely helps with pain and stress.

When I got my first tattoo, for example, I said a string of things that would make an entire fleet of sailors run for their mamas, and it worked to alleviate the pain. And during and after all 3 of my C-sections, I made those operating and hospital rooms rated M for Mature.

And let’s not forget about how cathartic letting a long line of swears loose after a hard day can be. Ahh, sweet relief.

So if you’re looking to boost your stats at the gym (or just looking for an excuse to drop bombs — F-bombs, to be exact), dust off some of your favorite four-letter friends and make it rain profanities up in that motha.