Health & Wellness

Does Coughing Burn Calories?

We all know the importance of physical activities like jogging, swimming, and weightlifting in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But have you ever wondered if something as involuntary as coughing can also help us burn calories? It’s definitely an interesting question that has crossed many of our minds.

In this article, we’ll explore does coughing burn calories, considering both the physiological aspects and the potential impact on weight management.

  1. Does Coughing Burn Calories

Does Coughing Burn Calories

Does Coughing Burn Calories

Yes, Coughing does indeed burn calories, as it is a physical activity that involves the respiratory system, muscles, and nerves. The amount of calories burned during coughing is relatively small, with estimates ranging from 2 to 5 calories per bout of coughing.

The energy used can vary depending on the intensity and duration of the cough, as well as individual factors such as metabolism and body composition.

Coughing is a natural reflex that helps clear the airways of irritants, mucus, and other debris, and it also plays a role in reducing the risk of infection.

But beyond its primary health function, some may wonder if coughing has any impact on calorie expenditure.

Coughing and Weight Management

While most coughs are harmless, if a cough persists for more than two weeks, especially if accompanied by symptoms like green or yellow mucus, bleeding, or difficulty breathing, it’s important to see a doctor.

Coughing can be an indicator of a more serious condition such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

Energy Expenditure During Illness

When you are ill, coughing may contribute to an overall increase in caloric expenditure as your body uses extra energy to heal. However, coughing can also lead to decreased activity levels, dehydration, and muscle fatigue.

Factors Influencing Caloric Burn

Several factors influence the calorie-burning potential of coughing:

1. Frequency and Intensity

There are several factors that influence the calorie-burning potential of coughing? It’s true! The more frequent and intense the coughing episodes, the more calories we burn.

But don’t worry, even if you have a persistent cough, the overall impact on calorie burn is still relatively modest. So next time you have a coughing fit, just think of it as a mini workout!

2. Individual Differences

Things like our age, weight, and overall health can all play a role in how much energy we expend during a coughing fit. For example, if someone has a respiratory condition or weakened muscles, they may burn more calories due to the increased effort.

3. Muscle Engagement

One of the main factors is muscle engagement. When we cough, our abdominal muscles, diaphragm, and intercostal muscles all work together to expel air from our lungs.

Although energy is used during these muscular contractions, the total impact is less than during deliberate activities that use the same muscle groups.


In summary, while coughing does burn a small number of calories, it is not a significant factor in weight loss or management. It is a reflex action with important health functions, and if coughing becomes persistent or severe, it is crucial to seek medical attention to address any underlying conditions. For weight management, focus on a balanced diet and regular exercise as the most effective strategies.

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Dr Maria

MD. Board Certified physician. Fellowship In Family Medicine UK. 8 years of medical experience in Lifestyle-related health disorders. Graduated from AIIMS – All India Institute Of Medical Science, INDIA

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