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When it comes to losing weight, the most important number you need to look at is the amount of calories you’re expending versus the number of calories you’re consuming. Some people might think that they only burn calories when they’re exercising, but your body is actively burning calories throughout the day, and even when you sleep. The average person burns between 1,600 to 1,800 calories if you live a sedentary lifestyle. This means if you’re eating 200 calories per day, you’ll end up gaining anywhere between 20 to 40 pounds in just one year.

It seems pretty rough to stick below that number, which is why people add exercise to their routines to lose weight. No matter what type of activity you’re doing, your body burns through extra calories to use as energy, as long as you’re not sitting at the desk or on the couch. So which activities are going to help you burn the most calories? Let’s take a look at some of the best calorie burners, showing you what the average 140 pound female would go through in a given time period.

Bicycling

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Just going around on a bicycle while putting in some moderate effort can burn an average of 445 calories per hour. Of course, the faster you crank up the speed, the more calories you’re going to be using. Even going slowly (under 10 miles per hour) is a good time consumer that burns around 200 calories in an hour. The 445 calories per hour comes between 12 to 14 miles per hour, making it comfortable, yet still a calorie burning challenge. Competitive racers that are going over 20 miles per hour can burn nearly 1,000 calories in a single hour, though you’ll have to work your way up to that level.

Running

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Running, the oldest exercise in the book, has been one of the most effective calorie burners for longer than time can even tell. The good news is that you don’t have to be a marathon runner to burn a lot of calories while hitting the pavement (or treadmill). Running at a modest pace of 10 minutes per mile will let you travel six miles in one hour, burning an estimated 572 calories. If you can cut your mile time down to an average of eight minutes per mile, you’ll be burning through an incredible 730 calories. So it doesn’t matter what speed you’re going, as long as you’re going!

Swimming

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Not only is swimming a great calorie burner, but it’s also great for building muscle in all parts of your body. It takes a lot of energy to get a good swimming pace going, so it can be difficult to get into at first. Once you get into better swimming shape, you’ll notice that it gets easier and the effects on your body are tremendous. Swimming laps, no matter the style that you use, can burn more than 375 calories in an hour. Even something simple as treading water can burn around 200 calories, while the most effective style is the butterfly, burning 635 calories in a single hour.

Jumping Rope

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The workout that’s used by boxers to improve cardio and agility is a calorie burning machine, and one of the workouts that’s withstood the test of time. Jumping rope for an hour at even a very slow pace is very effective, burning around 450 calories in an hour. If you work up to a moderate pace, you can burn about 575 calories, while keeping the tempo to your peak performance will torch an insane 700 calories per hour. This is another one of those workouts that you’ll have to build up stamina to get the most efficient calorie burn, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

Tennis

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One of the older sports that’s popular around the world, tennis is incredibly easy to pick up and play, especially if you have a partner to go one-on-one with. Tennis requires a lot of quick movement, with stopping and starting becoming very common, breaking you out into short sprints. In a singles game of tennis, it’s estimated that you can burn around 445 calories after an hour of competition. Adding a partner to your team for a doubles match knocks it down to 254 calories per hour, which still makes for a good, fun and easy exercise.

Basketball

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Just like tennis, basketball is a sport where it’s easy to find other people to play with, especially at your local recreational center. Getting into a competitive basketball game requires a lot of running from end to end, making it a great cardio exercise. Playing a one hour game can burn 445 calories, just like tennis. Even if you decide that you just want to work on your skills by dribbling around and shooting, you can still burn around 320 calories, as long as you grab your own rebounds instead of just taking jumpers while someone else corrals the ball for you. If you want to be a basketball referee, you can even burn 380 calories per hour.

Backpacking

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Some of the biggest fitness enthusiasts around swear by hiking and backpacking as ways to burn calories. The heavier the load is on your back and the steeper the uphill climb, the more calories you’ll burn. The average backpacker will go through about 380 calories in just one hour, while you can burn more than 500 in an hour if your backpack weighs around 40 pounds. Obviously, you’ll want to lighten the load unless you’re big enough to carry that much weight, as it can definitely hurt your back. Even just hiking through the countryside will burn more than 300 calories per hour without a backpack on!

Aerobics

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Dance classes that teach aerobics have been in style for a long time now, with fun new ways to get people into the gym. They’ve also been very effective in calorie burning, especially in aerobic dances such as Zumba. The average high impact aerobic exercise burns nearly 400 calories per hour, while the lower impact versions can still burn more than 250 calories in the same time. Most forms of dancing are great for cardio and calorie burning, especially when you add steps to the mix.

Golf

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While most people think of golf as a relaxing recreation, playing 18 holes can use up a lot of energy. As long as you’re carrying your own clubs, you’ll plow through calories in no time during your next round. Walking with your clubs burns an estimated 225 calories per hour, and the average 18 hole round lasts for about four hours, making it a 900 calorie exercise. Pulling your cart takes away some of the calories burned, but still comes out to about 840 calories burned during a round. Even if it’s one of those days where you feel like taking the cart, you’ll burn around 160 calories per hour.

Things to Consider

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If the numbers do seem a bit low for the amount of calories burned, just keep in mind that we used a 140 pound female for the examples. A 200 pound male will go through calories much faster, with many of these exercises burning off more than 1,000 calories per hour. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to do endless hours of exercise to lose weight, as your body will be burning calories. Simply standing will burn a few extra calories throughout the day, so the main thing to look for is what you’re eating.

For example, let’s say that a 5’4” and 30 year old woman weighs 150 pounds, but doesn’t get much exercise at all. To lose two pounds each week, she’d only be able to eat 662 calories in a day, which is well below what doctors recommend. Adding in an hour of exercise can increase that number to a much more manageable 1,000 to 1,200 calories, while that same person would need 1,662 calories in a day to maintain weight without exercise. Just make sure you’re tracking the numbers of what you’re eating and how much you’re burning while exercising, and losing weight becomes much simpler!


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