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Daily wisdom: swearing makes you stronger

The case for getting verbally aggressive in the gym

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In our daily news series, Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, addresses some of the latest fitness research and news stories.

TODAY'S TOPIC: THE SCIENCE BEHIND SWEARING

THE SCIENCE

In the latest quirky science, researchers say dropping a few f-bombs could make you stronger. “The authors of this study looked at how swearing prior to a grip strength test and a bike sprint affected the ability to perform. It resulted in an increased measure of strength and greater performance respectively,” says Berenc.

EXPERT INSIGHT

“Swearing appears to have some benefits beyond just being a good outlet for frustrations,” says Berenc. It could be due to a natural response from the sympathetic nervous system during times of stress. “Dubbed the 'fight or flight' response, when we come under “threat” our body prioritizes sending blood and fuel to the muscles in the arms and legs to ensure we can run for our lives or fight off a predator,” Berenc explains. “In the absence of dangerous animals, the same response can be triggered in other stressful situations, like those in which we would utter a colorful word or two.”

So, if you associate swearing, which is often done in a loud or aggressive manner, with an activation of the fight or flight response, it makes sense that it could help you push a little harder. "A similar response can be seen in sports, particularly tennis, where athletes yell or grunt loudly," Berenc says. "It helps you to activate muscles throughout the body and put a little extra effort into the movement."

THE BOTTOM LINE

“Before you go out on the strength floor and let loose with some of your favorite words, consider that you can get a similar result from anything that helps to amp you up such as listening to your favorite song or clapping your hands,” Berenc says. “Ultimately it is more about priming your body to perform than the words or actions themselves.”