Burning calories is by no means the only factor to take into consideration when it comes to a sport’s health benefits. Other elements such as skill, strength, and stamina are also major benefits to be earned through mastering a new sport.
A lot of people end up creating a false equivalence between burning calories through exercise and losing weight, which really isn’t the case. Doing exercise alone has not been proven to have a significant impact on weight loss. The factors that determine weight loss are far more complex, and rely heavily on how you combine your exercise regime with a nutritious diet and good sleep hygiene.
But for those of you who are primarily concerned with finding a high-intensity sport designed to burn calories, the options are plentiful to choose from. Here’s a list of the best sports out there for using up energy, when measured by calories burned per hour. Combine any one of these with a balanced diet and good sleep regimen, and you’ll be sure to notice an improvement to your overall physical well-being in no time.
It should hardly come as a surprise that running is one of the most energy-intensive sports you can do. It forms the basis of just about every field sport, and is an invaluable skill for almost every track & field athlete. Running, especially sprinting, requires raising your heartbeat for an extended period of time, causing a greater amount of oxygen to reach around your body.
This process encourages your body’s metabolic rate to increase and burn more calories than usual, even long after you’ve left the track. Best of all, running to burn calories requires no equipment or teammates, simply a pair of trainers and a go-getter attitude.
Swimming is well-renowned as one of the top sports out there for people looking to cut down on fat. Swimming requires full-body engagement and pushes you to fight against the resistance of the water, further challenging your muscles. In a relatively short distance, swimming can burn an impressive amount of calories - especially if you opt for a more intensive stroke, such as the breaststroke.
Beyond merely burning calories, swimming is a top choice for full-body toning, as you cut down on fat as you simultaneously build muscle and improve posture.
3. Water Polo
Just as swimming is a fantastic option for burning calories, so too is water polo. Water polo is an exhilarating team sport that provides an excellent cardio workout for burning calories. In addition to its cardiovascular benefits, it also provides a whole-body strength workout, particularly for the legs and arms, if these are areas you’re looking to target in particular.
The world’s most popular sport is also one of the best when it comes to calories burned per hour. Just 30 minutes of football, or soccer to North Americans, can be enough to burn up to 350 calories - almost the equivalent of a whole meal! Beyond that, football also offers a wonderful opportunity to tone your arms and shoulders, as well as your legs and hips. Plus, it’s a team sport and a great way to connect with people around you.
Kickboxing is seriously impressive when it comes to the energy it requires. Kickboxing provides a full-body, high-intensity workout that really gets the heart pumping. Not only is it great for burning calories, but it also helps to improve overall bodily coordination, which comes in very handy both in daily life and for other sports.
HIIT is not technically a sport, shall we say - it’s more of a training style. That being said, it is one of the most effective ways for you to burn energy and raise your metabolism - in fact, that’s exactly the purpose it was designed for. HIIT, which stands for high intensity interval training, refers to a training style in which you push your body to a physical limit for a short amount of time, allow yourself a rest period, and then continue to repeat. Picture 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of rest on repeat. This is so effective because it not only burns calories as you’re training, but it works to raise your metabolic resting rate - how you burn calories as you rest.
Parkour is a relatively new sport, but it requires a full body workout that really gets calories burning. Parkour involves all kinds of different movements that allow a practitioner to jump from one point to another in a range of complex environments, without relying on equipment such as ropes, harnesses, or trampolines.
Parkour is often practised in urban settings, with practitioners training their strength and speed to allow them to bounce between walls, climb up heights, and jump across impressive gaps. Doing all this engages pretty much every muscle in the body and requires a great deal of strength and skill as well as energy, making it a perfect all-round sport for strength and fitness.
Any one of these sports makes a wonderful option if you’re looking for a new hobby guaranteed to raise your heartbeat and get those calories burning!