To lose weight and stay in shape, it is important to burn more calories than you consume. Exercise and sports can burn significant calories. The number of calories you burn depends on your weight and physical capabilities, the sport or activity and intensity level. While the minimum recommended aerobic exercise is 150 minutes per week, for optimal health benefits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends five hours of moderately intense aerobic activity each week.
Burning the Most Calories
Running at 10 mph and bicycling at more than 20 mph burns the most calories per hour. According to the Harvard Heart Letter, a 185-pound person burns 1466 calories, while a 125-pound person burns 990 calories per hour. Running and bicycling at a slower pace burns fewer calories per hour. A running pace of 5 mph burns between 480 and 710 calories, depending on your weight. A similar number of calories are burned when bicycling at 12 to 13.9 mph.
Whether for fun or competition, swimming is another sport that burns considerable calories. The butterfly stroke may burn between 660 and 976 calories an hour, depending on your weight and physical capabilities. Swimming laps can burn between 600 and 888 calories per hour. Different strokes work various muscles and burn different amounts of calories. Other swimming strokes that burn a significant number of calories include the backstroke and breaststroke.
Boxing is an intense workout, requiring constant motion and quick bursts of energy as you spar with a partner or participate in a match. Depending on your physical condition and weight, you may burn between 540 and 800 calories per hour. If you weigh more than 185 pounds, your calorie expenditure rises accordingly.
One hour of playing basketball or touch football burns 480 to 710 calories or more, depending on your weight, physical capabilities and intensity level. An intense soccer game may burn between 420 and 622 calories per hour. Other team and individual sports that burn 500 calories or more an hour include softball, baseball, squash, rowing and tennis.
Popular winter sports and activities that burn a high number of calories include skiing, snowboarding and sledding. According to FitSugar, cross-country skiing and ice skating can burn 436 to 544 calories per hour, depending on intensity level. Other calorie-burning winter sports include downhill skiing, ice hockey, snowshoeing and sledding.
Burn More Calories
Whichever sport you choose, apply moderate- to high-level intensity to burn the maximum number of calories. Moderately intensive exercise means you can talk while playing a sport. Vigorous exercise means you can't say more than a few words between breaths. According to the CDC, one minute spent on vigorous sports or activities is the same as two minutes at a moderately intense pace. Speak to your doctor to determine which sport or activity best suits your health and physical capabilities.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone
- Harvard Heart Letter: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- The Stir: Sports That Burn the Most Calories in Little Time
- Daily Mail: Swim Away the Calories
- FitSugar: Winter Sports: Burn it Up in the Snow