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Leisure Activities That Are Secretly Amazing Calorie Burners, Says Study

These vacation sports double as effective workouts, according to new research.

Just because you don't train for ultra-marathons or spend every waking minute banging out burpees doesn't mean that you can't get fit and lose weight. Regular movement is the cornerstone of a healthy life, after all, and how you choose to move around and expend your energy is entirely up to you. According to well-known research out of Harvard Medical School, there are certain leisurely sports activities that do indeed double as amazing calorie-burners.

According to their data, which is all based on 30 minutes of activity, your average 155-pound person will burn 93 calories playing pool, 112 calories bowling, 112 calories doing the foxtrot or throwing the frisbee, and 167 calories playing badminton. If you're feeling a little more extreme, you can burn upwards of 186 calories skateboarding, 298 calories rock climbing, and 316 calories mountain biking. The biggest calorie-burner of all non-traditional "cardio" exercises is playing handball, which can burn upwards of 446 calories in a single half-hour.

Recently, however, the folks at the UK-based website Skilled Golf took the historical Harvard data and combined it with other datasets they analyzed to reveal which of these more "leisure" sports are especially great at burning calories in a more real-world setting. After all, you don't typically play most of these sports in 30-minute increments. (Would you really play water polo, golf, or go sledding for exactly a half-hour every time you go out? Of course not!) What follows are four of the sports that anyone can play that are secretly the biggest calorie burners. So read on, and be surprised! And for more ways to burn fat faster, make sure you're aware of The One Workout That Drives 29 Percent More Fat Loss, According to Science.


18 Holes of Golf

Smiling man man in cap and sunglasses playing golf

If you were to walk a full 18 holes while carrying your own clubs, which usually takes roughly four hours, Skilled Golf estimates that an "average, healthy, and able-bodied person weighing approximately 155 lbs" would burn upwards of 1,640 calories.

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Playing Tennis

playing tennis

The same person would burn 780 calories over the course of an entire tennis match.

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Playing Basketball

playing basketball

The same person would burn upwards of 1,192 calories over the course of a full pick-up basketball game.

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A Day of Skiing

man skiing

Given that a day on the slopes can clock in at a full eight hours, the team at Skilled Golf estimate that going skiing can burn a whopping 3,345 calories. And for more great fat-burning advice, check out The Simple Morning Workout That Melts Fat All Day Long, According to Experts!

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more about William