I'm referring to, for instance, grunting in tennis. It refers to how many tennis players make loud "aaagh" noises when hitting a ball. In daily life, people often also do this when trying to lift something heavy, and etc. Recently, I noticed cats also make a similar noise (albeit smaller) when they are jumping onto a level that they can only barely reach.

Thus, the question: are there biological reasons why people cannot help but make such noises when trying to do something physically challenging? Does making noises help them achieve it for physiological reasons, or only for psychological reasons?

I searched online and wasn't able to find an answer.

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    $\begingroup$ There's smattering of research papers published on the topic of grunting and physical exertion, including at least one on tennis. The ones I've skimmed seemed to have small sample sizes and focused on testing physical performance with and without grunting, not on the physiology of the act. Next time you do any kind of brief physical exertion, pay attention to what your body does naturally. Most people will inhale in preparation, briefly hold their breath at the moment exertion, and exhale through the motion. A sequence that seems to prime the body to grunt. $\endgroup$
    – MikeyC
    Sep 30, 2021 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeyC do you mind sharing the references you found? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – J Li
    Sep 30, 2021 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ This is not an opinion-based question; there is an answer (or are answers). I VTC because of lack of any research. $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2021 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ @SPr - That is absolutely not "the entire explanation." Muscles groups are strengthened or not depending on if there is a grunt or no grunt (according to studies). It is indeed physiology, and physiology is part of Biology. So it is an unconscious attempt to strengthen oneself against a task. Maybe you should question your assumptions before declaring something "the entire explanation." $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2021 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ @SPr Thanks, makes sense! $\endgroup$
    – J Li
    Oct 6, 2021 at 15:10


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