You\’re psyched up. You have had pre-workout coffee, jogged up a sweat, mobilized, done your warm-up sets, hit your working weight, and after the first working set- you yawn.

Shake it off. Another set. A person finishes up, bring your hands off the bar. You yawn.

Did explore warm-up enough? Should you end the job out? Why can you yawn when you\’re probably the most energized and sweaty and not-bored you\’ve been all day long? Surprisingly, yawning during workouts is surprisingly common with no, it\’s not because you\’re bad at exercise.

Why Do I Yawn During Exercise?

There\’s is a lot we do not learn about yawning. You may have heard we do it when our blood is have less oxygen or full of co2: you take a deeeeep breath, you generate a little injection of extra oxygen, your body is much better able to power through. And hey, that would be an opportune reason behind yawning during exercise.

But as it happens that isn\’t really why we yawn.(1) (Plus whether it were, we\’d be yawning through our workouts instead of panting.)

So so why do we? If it\’s just from fatigue, why is it contagious? If it\’s to obtain more air, why are we seen fetuses yawning in the womb? There are some twenty different reasons which have been proposed why we yawn and scientists have a hard time agreeing on the primacy associated with a of them – the main reason.

We could spend all article entering the different reasons proposed why yawning is contagious but when it comes specifically to exercise, there\’s one pretty popular reason why: yawning appears to cool your brain.(2) Studies have found yawns increase during increases in brain temperature and that yawning can restore the temperature to baseline. In other words, it’s a natural ac. (And yep, as it happens people do yawn less during colder weather.(3))

Dr. Andrew Gallup, an evolutionary psychologist and neuroscientist who has published several papers on the subject, has found that although studies haven\’t shown that more oxygen or less carbon dioxide reduce contagious yawning, applying cold packs towards the forehead does. He\’s also participated in studies on rats that directly measure the temperature in the brain, and the results have supported the same conclusion.

Gallup told Furthermore that you\’re less likely to yawn during steady state cardio and when you\’re in a super hot environment, like Yoga, because the outside air is less likely for cooling you down.

Cooling Down

We should note that there are still millions of and one proposed reasons why we yawn as well as why we do it during exercise. Some experts, like Dr. George Bubenik in the University of Guelph, believe it\’s caused by chemical compounds in the brain produced during workouts, maybe nitric oxide supplement or serotonin. Gallup himself has also suggested it might be a means for the brain to get some blood back after it’s been diverted to the muscles throughout the workout.

But typically the most popular and well supported theory right now is it cools a warm brain. Having said that, excessive yawning can be a manifestation of dizziness or perhaps a more severe issue with body\’s temperature or blood flow, so be sure you see a doctor if it turns into a real concern.


  1. Provine RR, et al. Yawning: no effect of 3-5% CO2, 100% O2, and use. Behav Neural Biol. 1987 Nov;48(3):382-93.
  2. Shoup-Knox M, et al. Yawning and Stretching Predict Brain Temperature Changes in Rats: Support for the Thermoregulatory Hypothesis. Front Evol Neurosci. 2010; 2: 108.
  3. Massen JJ, et al. A thermal window for yawning in humans: yawning like a brain cooling mechanism. Physiol Behav. 2014 May 10;130:145-8.

About The Author