Skip to main content

Sports That Burn Through Calories

min read

By Jeff Hayward

Not all sports are created equal—some are more individual-based than team-based, and while some provide a great workout, we can’t say they’re the “healthiest” because they may involve contact that can lead to short-term and long-term injuries.

However, what they have mostly in common is they get your heart rate up and require mental and physical exertion. That being said, if you’re looking at sports as a way to shed excess fat and tone muscles, here are eight to consider…  

1. Racket Sports

Think of sports like tennis, squash and badminton. These athletic pursuits are mostly one-on-one, but there are doubles variations as well. These sports require mental sharpness, quick reflexes—and a lot of running back and forth. lists racket sports as one of the top-10 calorie burning activities, claiming they can eat up between 600 to 900-calories per hour. “However, you might not want to tackle these sports if you have bad knees or ankles,” adds the source—there’s a lot of sudden starts and stops that can put strain on lower joints.

2. American Football

This is one of those “All-American” sports that everyone loves to get behind. It’s a team sport where individuals can become legends from solo efforts, taking the ball the distance. It’s also a heck of a workout.

According to LiveStrongfull-contact football (as opposed to “touch” or “flag” football will burn around 440-calories every 30-minutes (based on a 200-pound player). If you weigh more, you’ll burn more calories playing this game, it adds. For example, the source notes that a 220-pound player will burn about 480-calories during the same time frame, while a 150-pound player will shed about 300-calories.

3. Ice Hockey

This is becoming increasingly popular in America (even in the warmer states); bolstered by the fact the American junior players just won the world championship. Aside from the glory, strapping on skates and suiting up can be a great way to sweat off some calories.

Ice-skating on its own is great exercise, “but add the quick changes and rapid moves of a game of hockey, and you’ve got an even better activity,” adds You can join a recreational league (sometimes called “beer” league) or something more competitive, and you’ll be burning 650 to 900-calories per hour while playing, according to the source.

4. Soccer

This is referred to as the world’s “beautiful game” and takes a lot of skill and patience to execute. It also takes a number of laps across a 100-plus yard field, which can be quite strenuous—especially when you add in slides, headers, and the occasional dive. has a handy calorie-burning calculator for sports, and according to the site, soccer will burn 567-calories in an hour for someone who weighs 175-pounds. Push your weight to 200-pounds and that number changes to 672-calories per hour.

5. Swimming

This doesn’t always have to involve a “sport,” as you can do leisurely laps in your backyard pool. However, it is an exciting event with several variations in the Olympic Games, so we’re definitely including it here.

According to, not only is swimming a great low-impact activity ideal for people with joint pain, it’s also a very effective way to burn calories. The site notes that someone who weighs 155-pounds swimming “freestyle” (with exertion to maintain speed) will shed 704-calories per hour, while a 180-pound person will shed 817-calories executing the same motions.

6. Running

Again, running may not always be looked at as a sport—you may just have your leisurely solo jog around the block regularly to stay in shape. But it’s also something people do competitively (against other runners), so we’re calling it a sport regardless.

In fact, Women’s Running magazine lists reasons why running is “the most perfect sport ever,” noting women of all ages and body types can benefit from it. Heading back over to that calculator on, we can see that running (at 6-miles per hour) accounts for 810-calories per hour (for someone who weighs 175-pounds).

7. Rugby

This is a rough-and-tumble sport that’s not for the faint of heart. Both men and women participate in this highly competitive contact sport, often played in muddy conditions that add to the grittiness of the action.

It’s also one of the highest calorie-burners among popular sports, according to a chart from Playing rugby will apparently eat through 612-calories per hour, based on someone who is 150-pounds. But since many who play this game have a bit more mass, let’s say you’re 200-pounds—in which case you’ll burn 819-calories.

8. Boxing

Whether you float like a butterfly or sting like a bee, getting into the ring to throw some punches at an opponent can be a major calorie-buster. According to the same chart from CalorieLab, boxing will knock out 748-calories per hour for a 150-pound boxer (which would you put in a welterweight competitive category, if you’re curious).

However, if we’re talking heavyweights then you’d burn 1,100-calories per hour (based on 220-pounds, and also the assumption that you’d last an hour in the ring against another heavyweight). We’re also not responsible for any fat lips or swollen eyes you may get in the process of burning calories.

Writer, General Health

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.

Fitness News & Advice


Aerobic and Strength Training Exercise Combined Can Be an Elixir for Better Brain Health in Your 80s and 90s, New Study Finds
By Brian Ho and Ronald Cohen Fitness News & Advice

Aerobic and Strength Training Exercise Combined Can Be an Elixir for Better Brain Health in Your 80s and 90s, New Study Finds

People in the oldest stage of life who regularly engage in aerobic activities and strength training exercises perform better on cognitive tests than those who are either sedentary or participate only in aerobic exercise. That is the key finding of our new study, published in the journal GeroScience. We assessed 184 cognitively healthy people ranging […]

Read More about Aerobic and Strength Training Exercise Combined Can Be an Elixir for Better Brain Health in Your 80s and 90s, New Study Finds

3 min read

Exercise May or May Not Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off — Here’s the Evidence for Both Sides of The Debate
By Donald M. Lamkin Fitness News & Advice

Exercise May or May Not Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off — Here’s the Evidence for Both Sides of The Debate

The global fitness industry will generate over US$80 billion in revenue in 2023, estimates suggest. And why not, given the many excellent reasons to exercise? Better cardiovascular health, lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, stronger immune system – the list goes on. One of the biggest reasons many people choose to exercise is to lose […]

Read More about Exercise May or May Not Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off — Here’s the Evidence for Both Sides of The Debate

5 min read