Smiling burns more calories...© Aitor Matauco/Red Bull Content Pool
The 20 best ways to burn calories in one hour
Want to know which workouts burn the most calories? Read on.
Written by Ellie Ross
Published on
How can you burn the maximum amount of calories in one hour? If you’re looking for the answer to that question, read on.
A study showing how many calories different types of exercise burn has been put together by researchers at the National Institutes of Health – with some surprising results. Swimming, taekwondo, running and aerobics all make the list, but do you know which one comes out on top?
We've ordered the top 20 from least to most intense. In each case the approximate calories burned per hour are for a 200lb (14.3 stone) person (so exact calorie count will vary depending on body size, gender, age and other factors). Barbara Ainsworth, lead author of the Compendium of Physical Activities study, says the activities that come out on top are those that “increase your rate of breathing, move your arms and legs in a rhythmic motion, and cause you to break a sweat.”

20. Water aerobics

Also known as ‘waterobics’ and ‘aquafit’, this is more than just splashing about in the pool. The water provides extra resistance – meaning you burn about 501 calories per hour.

19. Light or moderate lap swimming

Burn those calories in the pool
Burn those calories in the pool
Fancy expending around 528 calories per hour? Swimming light laps in a pool will do the trick.

18. Hiking

UK hikes with incredible sights
UK hikes with incredible sights
Lace up your walking boots, because you could work off around 546 calories per hour on a 60-minute hike. Choose a route with plenty of steep sections for maximum results.

17. Water skiing

Burn off those calories (jump not required)
Burn off those calories (jump not required)
Getting pulled along by a speedboat is not as easy as it looks – and is a great lower and upper body workout that also works your core. Do it for an hour, and you could use up as many as 546 calories.

16. Rowing on a machine

Not a big fan of water? You’ll burn the same amount of calories (546 per hour) by rowing on a machine. All on the comfort of dry land.

15.Cross-country skiing

Strap on those skis
Strap on those skis
Forget downhill skiing, if you really want to burn the calories then you should stick to flat terrain. Cross-country skiing will make you work up a sweat – and burns up to 619 calories per hour.

14. Backpacking

Hiking with a heavy backpack on can burn as much as 637 calories per hour – so chuck in a few extra items into your pack on your next walk.

13. Ice skating

British champs Torvill and Dean were on to something… Tearing up the ice on your skates also burns around 637 calories per hour.

12. Racquetball

Similar to squash, this is played with a hollow ball in a court with high walls – and works up a good sweat. An hour burns up to 637 calories.

11. High-impact aerobics

Dust off your leotards! Designed to get your feet tapping and heart pumping, high-impact aerobics can use 664 calories per hour.

10. Rollerblading

Rollerblading may not be as popular as it was in its heyday – the nineties – but it’s still a great form of cardio and a good alternative to biking and skateboarding. As well as increasing endurance and coordination, it’ll burn 683 calories per hour.

9. Basketball

Get your game on
Get your game on
Dribbling, bouncing, passing, slam dunking… Playing a game of basketball is tiring work. And it will see you burn 728 calories per hour.

8. Tennis

You’ll also burn around 728 calories by playing singles tennis for an hour.

7. Flag Football

Similar to tag rugby, this form of American football sees players ‘tackle’ an opponent by removing a tag from the ball carrier. Expect to lose 728 calories per hour.

6. Running (5mph)

Smiling burns more calories...
Smiling burns more calories...
Is running your sport? If your pace is 5mph, you could be burning around 755 calories every hour.

5. Running up the stairs

Reckon you could run up a particularly long flight of stairs (or a step machine) for an hour? If yes, then you would be burning around 819 calories per hour.

4. Vigorous swimming

Get that heart rate up
Get that heart rate up
An even better workout is ‘vigorous’ swimming, burning some 892 calories per hour.

3. Taekwondo

High kick your way to your dream body
High kick your way to your dream body
The most intense competitive sport on this list in taekwondo, which will see you kicking, blocking and striking while sparring with an opponent. The martial art burns around 937 calories in a 60-minute session.

2. Skipping

Making the top of the list (in joint first position), skipping will see you churn through around 1,074 calories per hour.

1. Running (8mph)

Up the pace for maximum calorie burn
Up the pace for maximum calorie burn
Finally, running at a pace of 8mph will also burn 1,074 calories per hour.