Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size

    Energy Boost From the Color Red?

    Seeing Red Makes Muscles Move Faster and Stronger, Researchers Say
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    June 10, 2011 -- Seeing the color red makes muscles move faster and with more force, a new study suggests. The finding could have important implications in sports and other activities where a quick burst of energy is needed.

    “Red enhances our physical reactions because it is seen as a danger cue,” researcher Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, says in a news release.

    Researchers say most people are unaware of the intensifying effect the color red has on their physical performance.

    But that quick burst of energy may come at an emotional cost. The perception of threat that the color red brings also evokes worry, distraction, and self-preoccupation, which could hamper performance, say researchers.

    Color Red Affects Performance

    The study, published in Emotion, compared students’ muscle reactions in two different experiments. In the first, a group of 30 students in fourth through 10th grade pinched and held open a metal clasp after reading their participant number written in either red or gray crayon.

    In the second experiment, a group of 46 undergraduates squeezed a handgrip with their dominant hand as hard as they could while reading the word “squeeze” on a computer screen on a red, blue, or gray background.

    All of the colors were matched in terms of intensity, brightness, and hue.

    The results showed that in both scenarios, seeing the color red intensified the force of the participant’s grip. In the second experiment, the color red also quickened the participant’s reaction speed.

    Researchers say previous studies have shown that seeing the color red can be counterproductive for skilled motor and mental tasks. For example, athletes competing against an opponent wearing red are more likely to lose, and students who see the color red before a test perform worse.

    “Color affects us in many ways depending on the context,” Elliot says. “Those color effects fly under our awareness radar.”

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
    Take your medication
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Hungover man
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Woman worn out on couch
    Happy and sad faces
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    laughing family