How Many Calories Does Coughing Burn 2024? Surprising Facts

A persistent cough might be a nuisance, but it’s also an involuntary workout for your body. “How Many Calories Does Coughing Burn? Surprising Facts” clears up the surprising number of calories you can burn through this common respiratory reflex.

How Many Calories Does Coughing Burn?

A cloud of coughs fills the air, each one expelling energy. The forceful bursts create movement and sound, representing the calories burned through coughing

Your body burns calories through metabolic processes, among which Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is a key component. BMR is the calories your body needs to maintain basic functions at rest. However, any physical activity, including coughing, can increase your caloric expenditure.

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): The calories you burn at rest to maintain vital body functions.
  • Caloric Expenditure: Increases with any physical activity beyond your BMR.

Mechanics of Coughing

Coughing is an automatic reflex that helps keep your respiratory system clear. Here’s how it works:

  • Airways: Irritants in the airways trigger the cough reflex.
  • Muscles: Your chest and abdominal muscles contract vigorously.
  • Diaphragm: This primary breathing muscle also plays a role, pushing out air at high speeds.

When you cough, these muscles’ sudden and repetitive contractions require energy. This means that during a cough, your body burns a small amount of calories. The exact amount of calories burned during coughing can be around 2 to 5 calories per bout, depending on the intensity and duration of the cough.

  • Calories Burned While Coughing: Typically 2 to 5 calories per bout.

Health Implications and Coughing Frequency

Impact on Weight Management

Coughing is not a weight-loss method. However, it’s fascinating to note that your body does use energy to cough, which means calories are burned, albeit in a very small amount. Regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet are the cornerstones of effective weight management. Coughing burns calories at a much lower rate than your resting metabolic rate and regular activities.

  • Calorie Burning: A sustained cough over time could burn more calories than a simple throat-clear cough. However, this is insignificant compared to energy expended during a 30-minute walk.
  • Exercise vs. Coughing: A moderate-pace walk for someone weighing around 68 kilograms (150 pounds) can burn about 100 calories in half an hour; coughing does not even come close to this calorie expenditure.

Coughing in Relation to Health Conditions

Chronic cough might indicate underlying health conditions, such as COPD, heart failure, respiratory infection, asthma, or allergies. The frequency of coughing in these cases could lead to discomfort and indicate an illness that might need attention from a healthcare professional.

  • Frequency of Coughs: An asthmatic might experience higher cough frequencies than a person without such conditions. It provides a measure of how the illness affects daily life.
  • Chronic Cough: A chronic cough could suggest prolonged discomfort and potential harm to overall health. If cough-related calorie burn intrigues you, it’s worth noting that a more frequent cough could be symptomatic of a severe condition rather than a tool for weight management.


Do I lose calories when I cough?

Yes, you lose a small number of calories when you cough, as it’s a physical activity.

Does coughing take a lot of energy?

Coughing doesn’t take a lot of energy, but frequent coughing can add up to a modest amount of calorie expenditure.

How many calories are in one cough drop?

One cough drop typically contains 10 to 25 calories, depending on its size and ingredients.

Does your body burn more calories when you have a chest infection?

Your body may burn more calories when you have a chest infection due to the increased effort to breathe and fight the infection.

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