10 Best Sports to Burn the Most Calories

10 Best Sports to Burn the Most Calories


What are the best sports to burn the most calories? It’s not exactly a secret that exercise is one of the easiest ways to lose weight and keep it off, but you might be surprised at just how effective some activities can be compared to others. If you’re looking to maximize your calorie burning potential, here are 10 sports that will help you get there.

1) Cycling

Cycling is a terrific way to burn calories. A 130-pound person can burn about 660 calories in an hour of cycling, according to Harvard Medical School, which means that you could lose up to 10 pounds in one year if you cycle for four hours a week. Additionally, cycling doesn't put much strain on your body—which means it won't be hard on your knees or back. And unlike running or walking, it doesn't require any special equipment besides a bike and helmet (and maybe cleats if you have them). Just make sure you're getting enough resistance so that your pedaling isn't easy—otherwise, it's easy to slack off! You'll also want your bike seat and handlebars adjusted correctly so that you can maintain good posture while biking.

2) Swimming

Though most people probably don’t associate swimming with serious calorie-burning, it’s actually one of the best ways to keep your heart rate up. Water is like 1 million times denser than air, so you have to work a lot harder—and faster—to move through it. The easy backstroke burns about 500 calories an hour (for a 150-pound person), according to info from USA Swimming, while breaststroke and freestyle can burn nearly 900 calories per hour for that same person. During sprints or at top speed, water polo players can burn up to 1,500 calories per hour. If you want something low impact but still challenging, try treading water for two hours and see how many calories you burn!

3) Boxing

Boxing is one of those sports that delivers both an aerobic and anaerobic workout. That means you'll be working on your cardio while you're also strengthening your muscles. You burn a ton of calories when you train with boxing, too: A 150-pound person burns approximately 860 calories in 30 minutes of boxing—that's roughly equivalent to running a six-minute mile for 60 minutes. If weight loss is one of your goals, consider adding boxing as a sport into your weekly routine. You'll not only lose weight but also build lean muscle mass while doing it!

4) Soccer

Soccer (or football, depending on where you live) is often cited as one of the best sports for burning calories. According to Sports Illustrated, soccer players run an average of 7-8 miles during a game, with sprints around 15-20 per game. Combine those high-intensity sprints with longer runs that build endurance and you’ve got a sport that will burn a lot of calories. Depending on your body weight and playing position, you can expect anywhere from 536 to 1,106 calories burned in a match (with higher body weights resulting in more calories burned). Running an hour at 5 mph burns about 300 calories for men and 227 for women, so even if you run after practice your calorie burn may be pretty substantial compared to other sports.

5) Running

Running may seem simple, but it's more effective than you might think. One pound of fat takes about 3,500 calories to burn—and running for an hour can burn off as many as 600 calories! Start running with just one mile a day, and try adding on additional miles each week until you're up to 5 or 6 miles a day. (Before you begin any exercise routine, check with your doctor.) Running burns so many calories because you're working harder than when walking—you're accelerating and decelerating, which requires more energy. Also, when you run your body works against gravity instead of propelling itself forward (as it does while walking), which is more strenuous.

6) Aerobics/Step aerobics

Step aerobics burns a lot of calories. You’ll use your own body weight for resistance as you step up and down, increasing your heart rate and taking your muscles through a full range of motion. A 150-pound person can burn about 700 calories per hour during an aerobics class.

7) Cross fit

It’s no secret that cardio is one of the best ways to stay in shape and burn calories. But research has shown that you don’t need long, slow workouts or even expensive treadmills to reap those benefits. A 2012 study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that a high-intensity interval training routine improved participants’ cardiovascular fitness more than traditional aerobic exercise (3). For a similar approach, try cross fit training.

8) Racquet sports (tennis, squash etc.)

Ten-pin bowling, also known as duckpin bowling, can be a good way to burn calories in a short amount of time. A typical game of ten-pin bowling requires less than an hour and burns off between 200 and 300 calories. Another racquet sport that burns lots of calories is tennis. Running around between points helps you get your heart rate up and burn fat quickly.

9) Tennis

There’s a reason why tennis is one of the highest-paying sports in professional athletics. It burns an average of 700 calories per hour, which is more than what basketball (400 calories), hockey (500 calories) and soccer (500 calories) burn. Tennis combines aerobic exercise with hand-eye coordination—something that’s present in all sports, but tennis requires especially good reflexes and vision.

10) Basketball

Basketball is not only a fun sport, but also an excellent way to burn off some extra calories. In fact, studies have shown that playing basketball for as little as 15 minutes can help you burn up to 50 calories! Along with helping you get into shape, though, basketball can also teach you important skills that will benefit you no matter what career path you end up following. If your schedule isn’t very flexible, don’t worry—it is possible to play basketball even if your life is busy!

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