Why you should swear for a better workout or race


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


A friend forwarded me this Newsweek article about a British experiment on swearing and pain tolerance:

In a study published in this month’s issue of NeuroReport, [Richard Stephens of Keele University and his colleagues] asked participants to submerge their nondominant hand in ice-cold water for as long as possible (or for a maximum of 10 minutes) while either repeating a swear word or a neutral word (one that describes a table). The volume and pace used for swear words and neutral words were kept similar. Then, the researchers compared those who swore and those who didn’t to determine the effect on the length of time that participants were able to keep their hands submerged.

Subjects who swore managed an average of 40 seconds, or about a third longer than those who didn’t—evidence that a few well-placed word bombs of your choosing actually has a protective effect. [read on…]

So next time you’re trying to hit one last rep in the weight room, or hang on for one more kilometre at your maximum pace, take a look around — and if there are no children in sight, try swearing a blue streak to success!

[Thanks for the forward, Jay.]

2 Replies to “Why you should swear for a better workout or race”

  1. This site fills an important void in relaying sports science information to everyone.
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