The Best Active Sports to Lose Weight

Running up and down the basketball court builds endurance while burning about 544 calories per hour.
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The best sport to lose weight offers a fun way to increase physical activity to markedly move down the number on the scale. Chose a sport that keeps you moving for at least four hours a week so you burn enough calories to make an impact on your size.


How Does Weight Loss Occur?

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Generally, it's pretty much impossible to lose weight without a negative calorie balance, explains a comprehensive review published in Healthcare in September 2018. This means you must burn more calories than you consume for an extended period — usually several weeks or months.

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How you create that negative energy balance varies from plan to plan, and each strategy may work to some extent. You can limit your overall calorie intake or reduce portion sizes so you consume fewer calories. Alternatively, you could increase your activity level to create an energy deficit. Whether you choose cardio, strength training or team sports, the key is to stay active and make exercise a habit.

Research published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders in April 2015 explains that significant weight loss can be achieved with calorie restriction. For best results, combine energy restriction with more exercise. Achieving significant weight loss can be difficult if you only exercise without changing your diet in an attempt to create a calorie deficit.

Read more: The Truth Behind 20 Diet and Weight Loss Myths


How Much Exercise Is Necessary?

Losing weight with exercise alone is likely hard because the typical recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may not be enough to induce weight loss.

Progress in Cardiovascular Disease published a paper in January-February 2014 repeating the American College of Sports Medicine's conclusion that exercise programs must exceed 225 minutes per week to have any notable effect on body weight.


Research in the same publication in July-August 2018 did note that the CDC's recommended activity levels may improve cardiovascular risk factors. Additionally, regular sports play and other types of physical activity may help keep the pounds off.

Read more: How Weight Loss Really Works

A review published in Diabetes Spectrum in August 2017 states that weight loss from exercise alone is less successful because of the low level of physical activity recommended by major health organizations. On top of that, when any notable activity is added, people tend to compensate by eating more calories.



That being said, if you are looking for the best sport to lose weight, you certainly shouldn't compensate after practice with calorie-laden shakes or treats.

Get Leaner While Playing Sports

When you're playing sports, even for fun, you want to perform at your best, feel energetic and enjoy yourself. Fun sports to lose weight become not so fun when they're reduced to a weight-loss chore.


If you're playing sports to lose weight, follow a healthy diet. Focus on foods that are low in sugar and unhealthy fats and high in water and dietary fiber. Fresh vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins — including chicken breast and white fish — are staples. These foods provide steady energy without adding inches to your waist.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Fat Loss


With this kind of diet plan, you can consume a greater volume of food so that you feel satisfied while taking in fewer calories. Being more active can make you hungrier, but the right foods can keep you full longer and help reduce your energy intake.

Vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins are also nutrient-dense, which is important when you're restricting calories but still trying to play at your best. A small study of 12 participants published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in March 2018 showed that caloric restriction of about 33 percent below their normal intake improved their exercise performance but negatively affected their nutritional status.


Subjects consumed below 90 percent of the recommended levels of micronutrients. This approach can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If you decide to reduce calories and play sports for weight loss, talk to your doctor or a dietitian about appropriate micronutrient supplementation.



When you try to lose weight with sports alone and no changes to your diet, you'll simply find that it's much harder to get results.

Fun Sports to Lose Weight

Sports help you lose weight when they burn a lot of calories. It's also smart to choose a sport you enjoy and can commit to regularly. If you don't enjoy the exercise, it's unlikely to be something that you'll stick to.

Sports can also be helpful when it comes to weight loss because they require practice and skill for you to thrive in play. You have to participate regularly to refine your abilities. Join a local league or a running or biking group or attend an after-work social event surrounding your sport of choice. This way, you'll get on a schedule that includes calorie-burning workouts multiple times per week.

Pick sports that will truly sizzle calories by keeping you active for long periods of play. Jamaica Hospital in New York suggests several different options that burn off a lot of energy and keep you entertained. Calorie estimations assume a 150-pound person. The exact number of calories you burn depends on your size, intensity level and the time spent out on the field or court.

  • Basketball is a good option to boost your cardiovascular conditioning and health. Running up and down the court also builds endurance while burning about 544 calories per hour.
  • Football is certainly physical and also burns around 544 calories per hour while developing your strength, speed and cardiovascular capacity.
  • Soccer is another sport that has you moving across long distances regularly as you chase after the ball. In about one hour, you'll scorch 476 calories while boosting your cardiovascular endurance and agility.

If you prefer solo sports, A Healthier Michigan suggests some alternatives. The following calorie-burn estimates are based on a 140-pound person.

Biking is a little gentler on your joints compared to sports that require running or jumping. You can burn more than 500 calories in an hour if you really put in the effort pedaling.

Swimming is another way to get rid of some extra fluff. By doing the breaststroke, you can burn up to 734 calories an hour. This may be a little too challenging to keep up, but a regular freestyle stroke still burns 400 calories per hour.

Running is easy to do just about anywhere. All you need is a pair of supportive shoes and a clear road, trail or treadmill. The total number of calories burned depends on your speed, efficiency and size, but estimates suggest about 790 calories per hour.