RANKED: The 23 best exercises for burning calories

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There’s a lot that goes into developing an exercise regimen: Meeting your body’s needs, finding something you enjoy, and figuring out what will have enough impact to make a difference on your health.

If you’re crunched for time, one of the ways to measure that is to figure out how much energy a particular exercise expends in the time you actually do it. In other words: How many calories does it burn?

The big, important caveats here are that exercising on it’s own actually doesn’t do much to make you lose weight. If you want to slim down, we suggest talking to a doctor about what a healthy weight is for you and working on cutting sugar and large portions out of your diet.

Still, calories burned per hour is a good measure of how intense a particular exercise is. The Mayo Clinic, drawing on research published by the US National Institutes of Health, lists 36 popular forms of exercise by their caloric impacts. We’ve ordered them from least to most intense.

Keep in mind that the numbers here are approximate. Also, just because an exercise burns calories faster doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best option. The most important exercise is the one you enjoy enough to get up and do on a regular basis.

23. Hatha yoga

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Hatha yoga, a version of the exercise practice centered on holding specific poses, sits at the bottom of this list, burning an average of about 228 calories per hour in a 90kg person.

22. A slow walk

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Next up: going for a stroll. For every hour walked at 3km/h, a 90kg person burns 255 calories.

21. Bowling

Bowling, along with the next activity on the list - ballroom dancing - burns 273 calories per active hour.

20. Ballroom dancing

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Ballroom dancing burns 273 calories an hour.

19. Canoeing

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Next up: canoeing. A leisurely paddle down a river will burn 319 calories in an hour for a 90kg person.

18. Power yoga

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Power yoga, or vinyasa, is a more movement-centered exercise practice than hatha. It burns 364 calories an hour. This article includes more information about the different kinds of yoga and how beginners can get started.

17. Downhill skiing

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This burns 391 calories an hour.

16. 'Running' on the elliptical

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This burns 455 calories an hour.

15. Water aerobics

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Edging out the first major sport on this list: water aerobics. The pool exercise can burn as much as 501 calories per hour in a 90kg person.

14. Light or moderate lap swimming

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Swim light or moderate laps in a pool, and a 90kg person can burn 528 calories per hour.

13. Hiking

Hiking, stationary rowing, and water skiing all burn about 546 calories per hour in a 90kg person.

12. Rowing on a machine

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This burns 546 calories an hour.

11. Water skiing

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This burns 546 calories an hour.

10. Cross-country skiing

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Cross country skiing is even more rigorous, burning 619 calories per hour in a 90kg person.

9. Backpacking

Want to burn even more? Go backpacking. Like ice skating and racquetball, a 90kg person will use about 637 calories per hour on a hike with a heavy backpack.

8. Ice skating

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This burns 637 calories an hour.

7. Squash

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This burns 637 calories an hour.

6. A game of basketball

A basketball game, tough or flag football, and singles tennis all offer great exercise, burning about 728 calories per hour in a 90kg person.

5. Flag football

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This non-contact form of American football burns 728 calories an hour.

4. Running 8km/h

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A moderate 8km/h run will burn about 755 calories per hour in a 90kg person.

3. Running up stairs

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Run up a StairMaster (or up a particularly long flight of stairs), and a 90kg person will burn 819 calories per hour.

2. Jump rope

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At the top of the list though are two very simple activities: jumping rope and running fast (12km/h to be precise). Do either of those things for an hour, and a 90kg person will burn 1,074 calories.

1. Running, 12km/h

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At the top of the list, fast running burns 1,074 calories an hour.

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