There are a number of reasons you might be yawning at the gym — and it’s probably not because you’re bored.
First, it’s possible that your brain needs to cool off. Some researchers believe that yawning helps cool the brain by simultaneously increasing blood flow to the skull and introducing cooler blood to the brain, says evolutionary neuroscientist Andrew Gallup, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at SUNY Oneonta. Strength and cardio training increase heat in both the body and the brain, which may trigger this cooling response.
Yawning is also influenced by ambient temperature, so you’re likely to yawn more when you’re warm. If you’re working out in a hot gym or outside in the sun, however, you may stop yawning as the temperature increases beyond a certain level.
“In elevated temperatures, taking a deep inhalation of ambient air that is equal to or exceeding one’s own brain and body temperature would no longer provide a cooling effect and may be counterproductive,” Gallup explains.
Recent research has also found that yawning may be connected to socialization. If you are in a group fitness class or busy gym setting, it might be a primal way to connect with people around you.
Gallup stresses that yawning should not be interpreted as purely a sign of boredom or fatigue. So don’t fight the urge to take that deep breath — it just might make you more alert and boost your performance.