Which Activities Burn the Most Calories?

Which activities burn the most calories? If you are a Fitbit advocate like me, you’re probably going to be looking for activities that burn more calories. The Fitbit is a great way to get you to be more active, because the more calories you burn, the more you can eat.

Which Activities Burn the Most Calories?
Photo by Viktor Bystrov / Unsplash

Which activities burn the most calories? If you are a Fitbit advocate like me, you’re probably going to be looking for activities that burn more calories.

Using a Fitbit is a great way to get you to be more active, because the more calories you burn, the more you can eat. And hello, this is the Cheeseslave blog. I love to eat.

Which Activities Burn The Most Calories? S

Which Activities Burn the Most Calories?

The following list is calories burned per hour of activity based on a person who weighs 150 pounds. I got these numbers from Captain Calculator.

Activity Calories Burned
Kettlebell 702
Ice skating, general 644
Spin bike class 609
Crossfit 600
Running 573
Tennis, singles 573
Rock or mountain climbing 573
Calisthenics (pushups, situps, pullups, jumping jacks) 573
Dancing, general 558
Roller blading (in-line skating) 537
Bicycling, general 537
Skiing, cross country, light effort 487
Swimming in lake, ocean, snorkeling 430
Swimming laps, slow 415
Martial arts practice 379
Snow shoeing, moderate effort 379
Kayaking, moderate effort 358
Golf, general 344
Basketball, shooting baskets 322
Skiing, downhill, light effort 308
Gardening 272
Horseback riding, walking 272
Raking leaves, manual 272
Mopping 251
Trampoline 251
Vaccuming 236
Surfing, general 215
Pilates, light effort 215
Yoga, light effort 200
Bowling 215
Walking a dog 215
Treadmill, walking 165
Grocery shopping 165
Walking, carrying a 15-pound child 165
Walking, slow, strolling 143
Doing laundry 143
Cooking, light effort 143
Washing dishes 129
Standing 93
Sitting 93

Which Activities Burn the Most Calories?

What I Learned About Which Activities Burn the Most Calories

I was really surprised by some of the things in this list.  Here are some of the things I found:

Kettlebell is the Clear Winner

I’ve said this on the blog before, but kettlebell is the number one exercise you can do to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time.

Kettlebell actually burns more calories than running. Not only that, but it combines cardio with weightlifting.

Bottom line: you get the most bang for your time invested.

That said, I don't know anyone who could swing a kettlebell for a sold hour. Because it's not really that much fun.

On the other hand, I could easily ride my bike or rollerblade for an hour, listening to music or an audiobook or podcast.

Kettlebell burns 702 calories and biking or rollerblading burns 537. Not a huge difference, but in my mind, biking and rollerblading are a lot more enjoyable.

Gardening is Better than Pilates or Yoga

Gardening burns more calories than pilates or yoga.

This was shocking to me! And very exciting. I’d much rather work on my garden all weekend than take exercise classes. Plus, you get the benefit of soaking up a lot of vitamin D and breathing fresh air.

If you enjoy gardening as much as I do, it’s a great way to burn calories.


Standing or Sitting? Doesn’t Matter

I’ve heard some people say they got a standing desk because it’s cheaper than a treadmill desk. But it turns out that standing really doesn’t burn any more calories.

The treadmill desk really is worth it in my opinion, because I’m able to burn almost 3 times as many calories while I am working as if I were sitting (or standing). Working for 3 hours at my treadmill desk burns over 800 calories — more than an hour of rollerblading.

Cooking? Housework? Nope!

I always hear moms say they get their workout from doing housework. Not according to this list. With the exception of vacuuming and mopping, most activities around the house barely burn more calories than sitting. Same goes for cooking. And yep, housework.

Guess that gets me off the hook! Better to hire a housekeeper and go rollerblading!

Which Activities Burn the Most Calories?

Golf or Basketball?

Golf burns more calories as shooting baskets. Amazing, right?

Personally, if I had to choose between the two. I’d much rather take up golf. Why? Because golfing is something you can do while you network.  Not so easy to network getting all sweaty on a basketball court.

I’m a very social person, so if I can socialize and get exercise at the same time, that’s a great way to go. And again, fresh air and sunshine. Plus, you get to wear those cute golf skirts and tops.

Who knew I would make a list like this and end up wanting to take golf lessons?

Which Activities Burn the Most Calories?

How To Choose Calorie-Burning Activities That You Enjoy

When trying to decide on activities that burn the most calories, there are a couple of things to remember when choosing things to do to get more active…

Keep in mind, it’s very important to look for activities that you enjoy. Exercise is a very personal thing. Don’t just do something because it burns a lot of calories, because then you won’t enjoy doing it and you’ll avoid it. And the more you enjoy something, the more you will do it.

I personally enjoy gardening, swimming, walking my dog, biking and rollerblading. I’m not the type to enjoy going to exercise classes.

I get bored listening to a yoga instructor. That said, I do enjoy swimming laps because it’s so quiet and it gives me a chance to think.

Bottom line: Find activities that you enjoy doing.

Look For Calorie-Burning Activities That You Can Incorporate Into Your Lifestyle

If you can find things to do that you can easily incorporate into your lifestyle, it’s a lot more likely that you will do them.

For example, perhaps you can ride your bike to work. If work’s too far and you need to drive, perhaps you could just keep a bike at work and ride it to a restaurant or a park for lunch. Or bring a pair of rollerblades to work and do some blading at the park during your lunch hour.

If you work in an office building with an elevator, take the stairs instead.

When planning a vacation, think of things you can do to keep your activity level up: walking, hiking, skiing, snorkeling, biking or rowing.

It’s Not Just About the Calories

It’s also important to remember that it’s not all about the calories. There are many other health benefits to exercise besides just burning calories. There are other factors to consider, like the importance of strength training and building muscle, increasing flexibility, and doing cardio.

How to Track Your Calories Burned

I highly recommend using a FitBit to track your steps and your heart rate. My Fitbit has been critical to not only track my exercise, but more importantly, it motivates me to exercise in the first place.

It’s so easy to track calories with a Fitbit. Just enter your exercise in the dashboard. You can also keep track of how many calories you eat — so it’s easy to create a calorie deficit if you need to lose a few pounds. The Fitbit is my number one tool for staying in shape and keeping the pounds off.

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What Are Your Favorite Calorie-Burning Activities?

What are your favorite things to do to burn calories? Please share your comments below.

Photo credit: Kettlebell, Gracefully in the Garden, Swimming, Rollerblading, Grand Cayman Golf