For a while now it’s been known that swearing increases your pain threshold, so things don’t seem to hurt as much as you thought. This, I imagine, is why people yell ‘Bugger!’ when they stand on a piece of Lego barefoot at the dead of night, and don’t generally try to make do with a more sedate, ‘Oh botheration.’ Cussing is nature’s analgesic. We all knew this at an empirical level, but it was nice to have it confirmed.

Now the same people who brought us that news, a bunch of pointyheads from Keele University led by the rather sober sounding Dr Richard Stephens, have discovered something else. Swearing loudly actually increases your stamina and physical strength.* That’s good, isn’t it?

What the good doctor and his team did was have volunteers work out on an exercise bike, or use a grip strength meter. Both tasks were completed after swearing ferociously, or after uttering ‘neutral’ words. I’m not sure the methodology is all that sound. What’s neutral to somebody else might annoy me a great deal. ‘Kale’ springs to mind. ‘Peanut butter’. There’s another one.

There’s a lot of babble about stimulation of the body’s sympathetic nervous system, but I’m not all that convinced about that either. That’s the system that gets your heart rate and respiration rate up, and that doesn’t seem to happen when we swear. Of course, in my case, my heart rate and blood pressure are up and I’m hyperventilating anyway, since my most frequent FFS moments occur when I read the Daily Mail or my computer has a duvet day.

If these findings are true, then it should make certain sporting events a bit more interesting. Instead of the sound of farts and groaning from weightlifters, we’d have a stentorian ‘Fuuuuuuuuuucccckk’. Tennis would be more fun if the grunters yelled ‘Bollocks!’ every time they go for the big hit.

Anyway, there’s a thought for your Sunday.

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