One of the two well-proven methods to lose weight is increased physical activity. That is why it is very rare to see a very fat athlete or a sports professional unless their sport specifically calls for them to be overweight and obese such as sumo wrestling, heavyweight judo, discus throwing, heavyweight boxing, and others. The point is that sports activities are well-known to improve the overall body composition, eliminating unwanted fat in the process. Here, we are presenting to you 5 sports that are considered to be excellent for losing weight. We purposely did not include some sports because they are a bit technical and you may not be able to perform it well without the right equipment as well as supervision.
First, a Look at Why Sports are Great for Losing Weight
When we use our muscles to move, all the different cells will require energy which is typically supplied by the food that we eat. When we exercise, our body will have to use this dietary energy to supply the needs of the muscles as well as other parts of the body. If we keep on exercising and the energy supply gets depleted, we don’t automatically grab a high-calorie food because doing so will require a long time for our body to process the food chemicals into usable energy. Instead, our body uses the energy that has been stored in the liver, in skeletal muscles, in the region in our bellies, and in tissues under our skin. And the most efficient form of stored energy is fat. So, while exercising without adding calories to our bodies, our cells will be forced to use up the stored fat. Over time, if we keep on doing this, we tend to remove all of the stored fat leading to a reduction in total fat mass and eventually, weight loss.
Now, that is exercising. Sports, on the other hand, is way similar to exercises in that it involves a lot of intense physical movements. These movements will require tremendous amounts of energy. That is why, if we are careful enough not to supply this need with high-calorie and high-fat foods, then our body will have to use the stored fat leading to weight loss.
So, here are the 5 best sports that we have researched that will help you lose weight.
Amount of calories burned = 200 calories for 2.5 minutes
There is a landmark study showing that sprinting is the best sports that will give you the best weight loss calorie-burning effects equivalent to a staggering 4,800 calories per hour. Unfortunately, it is physiologically impossible to sustain a 25mph speed for one full hour. The current record is 27.8 mph by Usain Bolt. A cheetah can sprint for more than twice the current world record at 75 mph. The study involved sprinting for 30 seconds on a stationary bicycle and followed by a recovery period of 4 minutes before sprinting again. The study participants complete 5 repetitions of the sprint-recovery cycle posting an average calorie burn of 200 for the entire routine.
While experts agree that the study was conducted in a highly controlled environment, the implications are nevertheless, promising. You don’t have to sprint for one full hour to achieve the 4,800 calorie burn you might be aiming for. Including several 30-second sprints in your usual jogging, interspersed with a recovery period, can significantly boost your weight loss efforts. Not bad, right? Sprinting strengthens your lungs, increasing the delivery of oxygen to your tissues. It also increases the heart rate as well as the metabolic rate while strengthening your muscles. It also elevates your core body temperature. All of these physiologic responses help you in your weight loss goals.
The key thing to understand is to push yourself to the hilt for a substantially shorter period of time then follow this up with a recovery phase to replenish your reserves. This is also the reason why fitness experts consider high intensity interval training is one of the best ways to lose weight.
Amount of calories burned per hour of >20 mph racing
- 130 pound person – 944 calories
- 155 pound person – 1,126 calories
- 180 pound person – 1,308 calories
You don’t need to join the Tour de France to know that cycling is one of the best weight loss sports around. While it’s true that it is more directed towards the strengthening and toning of the muscles of the lower extremities like your glutes, calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, these muscles will keep on burning calories long after the cycling session has been completed. Can you imagine Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merkx, or even Miguel Indurain as being fat? Do you think these world-class cyclists will be crowned as Tour de France’s multiple winners if they had more fat than muscles?
While it is true that only championship riders can reach the 944-1,308 calories burned per hour, this should not stop you from pedaling your way towards a leaner and healthier body. Cycling pushes you to regulate your breathing to maximize the delivery of oxygen. Failure to do so will lead to muscle cramping in the legs, one of the very first signs that it’s already lacking oxygen. Cycling on an uphill or even integrating a few 30-second sprint can surely help you burn those unwanted calories.
Amount of calories burned per hour
- 130 pound person – 590 calories
- 155 pound person – 704 calories
- 180 pound person – 817 calories
There are many reasons why swimming is a great sport for losing weight. First and foremost, it negates the impact of gravity on your body especially on your joints so you’ll feel more a lot motivated to push harder. Additionally, swimming is a full body workout as you will have to propel your entire body against the force of the water. Just imagine the amount of pressure exerted on every square inch of your body. This strengthens your muscles making them more efficient at utilizing energy. And as we already said, the more muscles that are moving, the greater the energy that will be required, and the greater the amount of stored fat that will be removed, mobilized, and eventually oxidized as energy.
While you can burn a lot of calories just doing an hour or so of freestyle, you can also try the other swimming strokes. Backstroke will typically give you the least amount of calories burned, but at 493 calories per hour for a 155-pound individual, it’s not far off the mark in freestyle. If you really want to burn the most calories in swimming, do a butterfly as it can lead to an hourly 774 calorie-burn for a 155-pound individual. Breaststroke and fast freestyle will typically burn the same amounts of calories per hour.
Amount of calories burned per 30 minutes
- 155 pound person – 260 calories
- 180 pound person – 311 calories
We’re not asking you to be like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, or even Robin van Persie. But the point is that studies have shown, association football (soccer) players can burn 260 calories in 30 minutes of running up and down the pitch, dribbling and blocking the ball with their feet and their bodies except the upper extremities. If we can lose a pound of weight for every 3,500 calories that we burn, that means we can lose 2 pounds in a month just by playing a full hour of soccer at least 3 times a week.
Studies have shown that the soccer can help enhance the activities of both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers. This helps build more muscle mass to help burn calories in a more efficient way. The way you run and shuffle your feet as you dribble the soccer ball towards the goal or even to pass to your teammates will help build and preserve muscle mass. This helps boost your metabolism to help your muscles become more efficient in the utilization of both dietary and stored fat molecules. This is how you lose weight.
Amount of calories burned per 30 minutes of competitive basketball
- 150 pound person – 285 calories
- 200 pound person – 380 calories
In the US, basketball is a major league sport. It’s not surprising if you see a lot of basketball hoops even in back alleys, neighborhood parks, and right in your backyard. Just like soccer, it’s the workout on the legs as you attempt to slice down the middle of the lane that is boosting those calorie-burn numbers. What is better about basketball is that you do get to exercise your upper extremities as well. While the weight of the basketball is light at only 22 ounces, it nevertheless packs an extra pound especially when dribbling because of the rebound effect. This provides resistance on the receiving hands which can further enhance muscle toning. These, together with the boost in metabolism brought about by the shuffling feet, can help you lose weight. But there’s a catch. You have to play full court basketball to really maximize the benefits.
We’ve said many times that the key to effective weight loss is a combination of diet, fat burning supplements and exercise. With these 5 fun sports activities, you now have all the right tools to help you lose weight.