The Science Behind Why You Yawn While You Workout

You’re all fired up and ready to slay the latest on BR+ workout so you dive in, but then something strange happens — you can’t stop yawning. Instead, you have to pause those burpee reps so you can let loose a string of yawns so powerful they may even bring tears to your eyes.

Ever wonder why? 

The Science Behind Yawning While You Workout

We all know the usual culprits that cause you to yawn (being tired or bored), but if neither applies then what is your body trying to tell you? There are a couple of reasons why you yawn while working out that can be separated into two categories: normal or excessive yawning.

Normal Yawning

We’re referring to the occasional yawn that’s more of an annoyance than a hindrance. Here’s what your yawns are trying to tell you.

  • Drowsy: If your workout is in the morning or evening you can expect some yawns to accompany you. If you want to avoid this, start your workout at the same time each day so your body anticipates a workout during a conventionally drowsy time of day. 
  • Overworked: If you’ve been unusually busy, your schedule has changed or you’re overtired then you may find yourself yawning more frequently — it’s your body’s way of saying, ‘take a hint, more sleep!’
  • Understimulated: In the same way you eat a variety of healthy foods, you want to vary your workouts. Doing the same daily workout is too predictable for your body. Your progress will plateau and believe it or not, you may find yourself yawning more frequently.
  • Regulates Body Temperature: There is a growing body of research that suggests yawning while working out may be a way for your body to thermoregulate (cool off) — thanks to the neurotransmitter serotonin. As your body heats up, so too does your brain temperature. The first line of defense is sweating to cool off but if that doesn’t do the trick, the theory is yawning will. Yawning improves the flow of blood to your brain while dropping your brain’s temperature. Environmental factors play a hand in this too; if it’s hot outside more effort is needed to cool off while less effort is needed if it’s cold.
  • Antidepressant Side Effect: If you’re on an SSRI or SNRI antidepressant (serotonin inhibitors) one of the most common side effects is excessive yawning.
  • Max HIIT Exercises: If you’ve come to love HIIT workouts you might notice the calorie-scorching exercises that target major muscle groups like squats, will incite more jaw crackin’ yawns. Why? They crank up the heat faster so yawns step in to cool you down. 

  • Excessive Yawning

    This is next level yawning that not only disrupts your workout but could actually be an indicator of health troubles.

    Excessive yawning is defined as yawning more than once a minute. Firstly, you want to rule out that you aren’t suffering from sleep deprivation. If not, and your yawns are persistent enough to have caught your attention, call your doctor as it could be a symptom of a health problem.

    Working Out and Yawning 

    Next time you train and a yawn escapes, you’ll be a little wiser as to what your body is trying to tell you.

    Ready to start training with ius? Start for FREE. Join us now! No risk. All reward. 

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