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Seven workouts scientifically proven to burn the most calories

News Desk
News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sat, December 9, 2017 | 12:09 pm
Seven workouts scientifically proven to burn the most calories

Running is one of the most simple exercises you can do, largely because it doesn’t require any equipment — technically not even running shoes, although they may be needed on some running surfaces. (Shutterstock/File)

According to data collected by Reader’s Digest, the following exercises have been proven to burn the most calories.

Fast-paced running

Running is one of the most simple exercises you can do, largely because it doesn’t require any equipment — technically not even running shoes, although they may be needed on some running surfaces.

Fitness expert Chris Ryan, CSCS, CPT told Reader’s Digest that running at 8 mph burns 1,074 calories every hour for a 200-pound (approximately 90.7 kg) person.

The reason most of us cannot sprint for too long is that the activity requires large amounts of energy, and places a serious amount of demand on the cardiovascular system.

According to Houston-based dietitian and nutritionist Roger E. Adams, PhD, “The best way to incorporate this exercise is to do 10–20 second sprints, or 100–200 meters, if on a track, and then jog or walk for 60 seconds.” He suggests that these intervals should be repeated until you get tired.

If you’re looking to make the most of your workout, wear weighted vest during your sprints. This is much safer than carrying dumbbells or placing weights on your ankles, and can go a long way in burning calories.

Read also: One hour of exercise a week helps prevent depression: Study

Jumping rope

Many of the greatest boxers the world has ever seen, including renowned Muhammad Ali, have relied on the jumping rope to speed up their heart rate and train their footwork.

According to Ryan, the exercise can burn over 1,074 calories every hour. “Even just a few minutes of jumping rope can get your lungs burning and heart racing.”

This calorie-torching exercise is arguably convenient, as you can do it at almost any time and place. The challenge is being able to continue it for over a few minutes non-stop.

Dr. Adams recommends doing the jumping rope in intervals. “Jump rope for a specified number of reps, say 100, then walk around or in place for 60 seconds. Then repeat this interval until you’re too tired to jump effectively.”

If you can sustain the exercise for over a few minutes, carry it on, by all means. Otherwise, stick to the interval approach to maximize your results.


Taekwondo is still the martial art that burns the most calories. Originating in Korea 2,000 years ago, the self-defense discipline involves a variety of kicking techniques, and requires combatants to try to weaken their opponent's technique and break their guard.

“The exercise emphasizes speed, power, concentration, reaction force, and breath control among its guiding principles, truly taking on an otherworldly athletic mindset and transforming mind and body into one powerful weapon,” explains Ryan.

Unfortunately, many people miss out on making the most of this exercise by taking long periods of rest between movements.

Read also: Good reasons to add swimming to your exercise habit

Vigorous swimming

It is common knowledge that swimming, despite being a low-impact exercise that is relatively accessible for everyone regardless of age or injury, burns a lot of calories. For a 200-pound person, vigorous or high-intensity swimming can burn over 892 calories per hour.

In addition to the cardio and strength training, some of the benefits of swimming are directly related to simply being in water.

“Your body normally runs at 98.6 degrees, but the average pool temperature is usually around 80 degrees — so your body burns calories just by trying to keep you warm and make up for the near 20-degree difference,” says Ryan.

If you’d like to challenge yourself further, try wearing resistance gloves or using a dead-leg stroke so that you can focus on exercising your upper body. A cooler pool can enhance your caloric burn as your body will have to expend energy to keep you warm.

Running up stairs

Running up the stairs is a great way to build muscle and improve your overall cardiovascular fitness. The exercise can reportedly burn over 819 calories an hour for a 200-pound person.

Stair running elevates the heart rate so that more oxygenated blood is circulated throughout the body, and results in a higher caloric burn than traveling the same distance on flat ground. Your net calorie burn is determined by your speed, the number of steps and the height of steps.

Physical trainer and senior director of Worldwide Fitness Samantha Clayton recommends keeping a faster pace up the stairs and walking down, as this is the safest approach. “You can vary your upward speed to increase the intensity level or, if you have the coordination, taking two steps at a time will make your muscles work harder and therefore increase your calorie burn. The more steps you climb overall, the harder your body is working.”

Read also: 5 things you should know before exercising


Even at relaxed speeds just above average walking speed, jogging is an extremely effective way to burn calories. For a 200-pound person, an easy pace of 5 miles per hour can burn about 755 calories every hour.

Jogging engages the full body and thus works a great number of muscles all at the same time. Like jumping rope, it is fairly convenient because all that is required are running shoes and a pavement.

Ryan suggests upping the incline a few percentages to push yourself further. “This helps increase the intensity of the workout, but also shifts the position of the foot strike to mimic an undulating path or trail, which becomes a much more functional way to attack a workout.”


The amount of fast-paced spurts of running and body movement required in a tennis match make the sport an excellent way to burn calories.

“What makes tennis so challenging is the rapid deceleration and acceleration that’s required for you to be good at the sport,” says Ben Boudro CSCS, owner of Xceleration Fitness in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “The ball movement is very unpredictable and when you have unpredictable requirements, you challenge your brain and muscles to contract as fast as possible to move your body and get in position.”

A 200-pound person can burn over 728 calories playing tennis for just an hour.

To burn even more calories, Ryan recommends adding in lightweight compression shorts or a weighted vest, because working out with just five to ten pounds of added weight can significantly enhance any workout. (afr/kes)