Swearing found to improve performance

Research suggests your performance could be lifted by unleashing expletives

Credit: The Secret Studio

hrissie Wellington might have dug race-winning depths with a smile spread over her face but, it seems, our Hawaii legend could have competed even faster fuelled by a tirade of expletives. 


Scientists at Keele University had 29 subjects twice undertake a 30sec bike test, one mute, the other swearing. Lead psychologist Richard Stephens observed that the group’s peak power rose by an average 24 watts when their cadence was accompanied by cursing. Stephens also noted that another group of 52 people increased their hand-grip test max by the equivalent of 2.1kg when squeezing to the backdrop of obscenities. 


In both tests, the author observed that heart rate didn’t rise when swearing, leaving Stephens to comment: “Quite why it is that swearing has these effects on strength and pain tolerance remains to be discovered.” For the interests of sociability, we’d test this research on your own (bike breakaway?), quietly and very occasionally!