Not everyone is a major fan of consistently going to the gym, and some may even repeatedly stick to one workout plan that can get mundane. But when it comes to a fat loss journey, it’s important to keep your body moving and burn more calories than consumed. If you’re looking for a new way to stay on track and accelerate your weight loss efforts, there are quite a few sport-centric workouts that will do just that. We rounded up six exercises that burn the most calories and help you shed excess weight in a timely fashion. (You can thank us later!)
Aside from playing a fun pickup game of basketball or soccer as a kid, most doctors and trainers might advise adults to take part in running, jogging, or long walks to begin shedding fat. While running and/or walking is extremely beneficial for weight loss and can support the long-term health of your body, these exercises are not always the most inviting or fast working of all.
“The goal is to find an activity you love and do it consistently,” explains Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian, certified specialist in sports dietetics, and award-winning author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “If weight loss is your goal, then do more of it and also monitor your nutrition so that you healthfully create a deficit of calories while still fueling your body with nutrient-rich foods.”
On the one hand, running usually correlates to approximately 100 calories burned per mile, according to ACE Fitness, and walking at a pace of four miles per hour could help you burn 135 to 189 calories in 30 minutes. On the other hand, high-intensity interval training is an option that may torch the most calories and help you reach your goals faster, research shows. “[This is because it’s] a type of exercise that bounces between higher intensity and lower intensity training that burns more calories than moving for the same amount of time at a slower pace,” Goodson says.
That being said, for those who are in the market for fast results and a fun way to go about exercise as a whole, we have you covered. Take a look at these sport-focused workouts that have been scientifically proven to burn the most calories and help you lose weight the fastest.
Swimming is an individual sport that puts your entire body to work. Some might say it’s an underrated form of cardio and/or a low-intensity workout that can help you burn excess calories and sculpt lean muscle. Research even backs up its weight loss benefits.
Strokes such as the butterfly, breaststroke, and even freestyle can speed up the calorie burn. According to WorldHealth, in only 30 minutes of training, you can burn anywhere from 367 to 404 calories by swimming in some of these energy-consuming strokes. This physical activity has your body moving against resistance, which helps you torch body fat and sculpt muscle. As Goodson puts it, “Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning that it burns more calories at rest.”
For those who are looking for a fun group exercise, Zumba can be a great option for weight loss. It’s not necessarily your typical “sport” per se, but rather an aerobic high-intensity type of training that involves intricate movements with a group of other like-minded individuals who are keen on dancing workouts.
Research shows that Zumba can significantly influence a weight loss journey by decreasing your overall body fat. During an hour-long Zumba class, it’s likely you can burn an average of 500 to 800 calories. There are quite a few factors that could play a part in how many calories are actually burned—such as age, genetics, and personal intensity (how hard you work!)—but as long as you’re effectively putting effort into hitting those dance moves, you can expect to see results in no time.
Whether you enjoy shooting hoops here and there or playing in a pickup game with friends, basketball is a beloved, competitive style of exercise perfect for shedding weight. For example, during a 30-minute period of playing a 155-pound person can burn around 288 calories, Harvard Health Publishing reports. While that’s just a baseline, someone with a heavier body weight could exert more energy and torch even more calories during the exercise.
Basketball combines jumping movements and resistance training to make it an excellent total-body workout. Along with helping you lose unwanted weight, this fun sport will also give you a nice little mood boost, promote healthy bones, decrease stress, improve your coordination and balance, and enhance your heart health, WebMD explains. What more could you ask for in a workout?
Flag football is another team sport that can benefit your body in terms of burning calories, as it’s a vigorous workout with all kinds of movement, according to Virtua Health. Even though there may be times of rest and downtime in team huddles, the sport has little person-to-person contact but a whole lot of intense muscle work.
Playing a full game of flag football includes two halves that last 20 minutes, totaling 40 minutes of game time. It’s estimated that a 150-pound person who participates in an entire flag football game can torch around 363 calories. A 200-pound individual can burn around 484 calories, and a 250-pound person can torch about 605 calories, according to MyFitnessPal. This exercise can push your body to its limits, due to the demands of players needing to sprint, jump, and switch directions quickly. Not only will you be able to see positive results in your body weight, but the sport has also been seen to support better cardiovascular and bone health, NFL FLAG reports.
If we’re talking about having fun while also getting in an amazing workout, rock climbing has to be close to the top of the list. You can either head to a climbing gym or try your luck at the great outdoors with a certified professional, but either way, you’re in for a challenging and rewarding exercise session.
According to WebMD, rock climbing is a total-body workout that activates the core, legs, arms, glutes, and back, forcing you to use essentially all areas of your body to climb. It combines strength and aerobic work that’ll increase the calorie burn during your day, aiding in your weight loss efforts. For instance, research approximates that you can burn anywhere from a whopping 480 to 660 calories per hour while rock climbing! Beware, though, because the intensity level of this sport is high, so it may take some time to get used to.
This popular exercise has a number of health benefits in addition to weight loss. Studies have found that cycling can greatly improve one’s fitness ability, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and even death. From beginners to pros, Harvard Health Publishing reports that anyone who takes part in this type of workout could have the opportunity to melt away 210 to 441 during a 30-minute cycling session, depending on their weight and the intensity of the workout. But regardless of the speed you decide on, this is another exercise that can support fast weight loss and improved overall physical fitness.
So what are you waiting for? Get involved in some of these sports and workouts ASAP to support your weight loss goals, better your health, and have a great time while meeting some new people!