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Words Moms Should Say For an Extra Workout Boost

Photograph by Twenty20

It's no secret that mothers are some of the strongest people on earth, but what if simply repeating expletives could actually make you even stronger?

A new experiment has confirmed swearing can boost people's strength. More specifically, researchers at Keele University in England found that when they had people repeat a curse word in an even tone (no screaming or shouting) during cycling or hand grip tests, the participants performed better. To compare, they also asked participants to choose a neutral word, like "wooden" or "brown" while exercising. Turns out, swearing had a discernible impact. The peak power for those on the 30-second bike challenge rose by an average of 24 watts, and those trying the 10-second grip task boosted their strength by 2.1 kilograms.

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The study is small (29 people for the cycling test and 52 for the grip test), and there's still a lot about swearing's physical effects that haven't been studied. But it's not like parents don't already know somehow, in their guts, that this is true. Just think about all the times you've muttered "shit, shit, shit" while trying to keep heavy Costco supplies from falling on the way from the car to the house (#MultipleTripsAreForTheWeak). Or when you give a few "fucks" while on the toilet but forgot to lock the door, so you're activating all your squatting muscles by pushing on the door—because your kids will not come in and bother you for once, dammit.

“We’re not telling people something they don’t already know, but we’re verifying that in a systematic and objective way,” said Richard Stephens, the lead researcher who presented the results at a British Psychological Society conference. “I think people instinctively reach for swear words when they hurt themselves and when they’re looking for an extra boost in performance.”

Previously, Stephens' research also found that swearing can lessen pain, triggering a "fight or flight" response. Other recent studies have also shown those who curse more do give a damn. They're more likely to be honest people and are more intelligent, for instance.

Even Kraft is embracing moms with sailor mouths. We swear! Last week, the company released a mac 'n' cheese commercial featuring author and swearing expert, Melissa Mohr, Ph.D., and suggested some "kind-friendly alterna-swears" like "what the frog?" and "flipping goof nuggets!"

The video currently has almost 2.5 million views on YouTube.

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Kraft also conducted a parenting survey of 1,000 millennial parents and found that moms swear more than dads. As many as 74 percent of moms admit to swearing in front of their kids.

Sometimes moms just have to let one slip, and if somehow channeling taboo words into your workout routine can help strengthen some muscles—well, that's just ducking great.

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