Does Coughing Burn Calories? Exploring the Science Behind It

We’ve all heard the old adage, “coughing burns calories,” but is there any science to back that up? It seems like a funny concept; after all, coughing is a reflexive response to a foreign object or irritant in the respiratory system, not a form of exercise. But, as it turns out, there is an element of truth to this idea. Research has shown that coughing can indeed burn a small number of calories.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind this phenomenon and look at why coughing can be an effective way to burn calories. We’ll also discuss some of the potential health benefits of coughing and how it can help improve your overall fitness. So, if you’re looking to burn some extra calories, coughing may be an unexpected way to do it.

What Is Coughing?

Coughing is a protective reflex that helps remove excess mucus and other irritants from the lungs and respiratory system. It’s a very common symptom associated with a wide range of health conditions, including infections, allergies, and the common cold. When you cough, your diaphragm contracts to pull air into your lungs and create negative pressure inside your chest cavity. This air pressure then forces mucus and other particles out of your respiratory system.

While it’s not usually a sign of something serious, coughing is usually an indication that something is not right with your health. It’s also a very common symptom that can be hard to control. Coughing can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, so it’s important to take some steps to keep your cough under control. Coughing can be an uncomfortable and even painful experience, so it’s important to try some natural remedies that can help reduce coughing and make you feel better.

Does Coughing Burn Calories?

As we mentioned earlier, coughing is a reflexive process that is not intended to be a form of exercise. However, there is an element of truth to the idea that coughing does burn calories. Interestingly, the calories burned through coughing are very small. According to Mayo Clinic, about 10 calories are burned with every 10 coughs. This is a very low amount, so don’t expect to see big changes in your fitness level based on these numbers.

According to this source, a person weighing 150 pounds will burn about 1,500 calories per day. So, even if you have a bad cough and cough 10 times every single minute for an entire day, you’ll only burn about 72 calories. Coughing will not lead to significant weight loss, but it may be useful for some people as a way to supplement their regular exercise. Coughing does engage the muscles in your upper body and torso, even if only for a few seconds at a time.

A Sick Man Covering His Mouth

How Many Calories Does Coughing Burn?

As we discussed earlier, coughing does burn calories, but the number of calories burned is very low compared to other forms of exercise. Mayo Clinic estimates that coughing results in about 10 calories burned per 10 coughs. This number is based on a person who weighs 150 pounds and who coughs 10 times in a minute. If you weigh more than 150 pounds, you will likely burn more calories with each cough. If you weigh less than 150 pounds, you will likely burn fewer calories with each cough.

Coughing 10 times in a minute is an extreme level of coughing, so don’t go into this thinking that you can burn a large number of calories in a short period of time. You will likely cough far less often than 10 times in a minute, and each cough will likely last only a few seconds. All of this combined means that coughing will not result in a large number of calories burned over the course of a day. If you want to burn more calories with coughing, you can try increasing the intensity of your cough.

Potential Health Benefits of Coughing

Coughing may seem like a bad thing, but it actually serves several important functions that are beneficial to your health. When you cough, you’re clearing out your lungs and respiratory system of contaminants, irritants, and excess mucus. This can help prevent infections and even reduce the severity of symptoms related to allergies. Coughing may also help break up and dislodge particles and other substances that have become trapped in your lungs. Coughing can also be beneficial by increasing blood flow and pressure in your lungs. This can help transport more oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your body. Coughing can also help strengthen the muscles that are used in the process of coughing.

How to Increase the Number of Calories Burned Through Coughing

Coughing burns a low number of calories, but you can increase the intensity of this activity and burn more calories. Coughing more often – You can cough more often in a shorter period of time by increasing the intensity of your cough. You can do this by coughing more forcefully or spending more time coughing. Coughing longer – You can also increase the length of time that you cough. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as coughing in a sitting position rather than lying down or holding your breath while coughing.

Coughing harder – Finally, you can increase the number of calories burned through coughing by coughing harder. You can do this by breathing deeply before coughing, coughing with your mouth open, and coughing while slightly contracting your abdominal muscles.

Tips for Staying Healthy While Coughing

Stay hydrated – Coughing will cause you to lose fluids through sweating, coughing, and other bodily processes. Make sure you stay hydrated by consuming plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day and night. Cough into your elbow – When you cough, you want to avoid spreading germs to others and limit the number of contaminants that end up in your hands.

To do this, you should cough into your elbow rather than your hands. Cough in a sitting position – When coughing, you want to maintain good posture and avoid putting unnecessary strain on your back. You can do this by coughing in a sitting position rather than lying down.


Coughing is a natural reaction to irritants in your respiratory system, but it can be hard to control. It can also be painful, uncomfortable, and even embarrassing at times. While coughing will not help you lose a significant amount of weight, it can be a helpful way to burn calories. Keep in mind that coughing will not result in a significant amount of calories burned, but it can be a helpful supplement to your fitness routine.

If you struggle with coughing, there are also a few steps you can take to increase the intensity of your cough. And if you want to stay healthy while coughing, make sure to hydrate and cough in the right way to minimize the spread of germs.


Arthur Wick

I am a writer and hobby magician who loves nature. In my free time, I enjoy performing magic tricks, such as pulling rabbits out of a top hat, and spending time in nature. I also enjoy riding my electric unicycle, or EUC, when I have the chance.

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