10 Exercises That Burn the Most Calories

A lot of people will tell you to “just exercise” if you’re trying to lose weight. However, the type of exercise you choose has a huge impact on how many calories you burn and how much weight you ultimately lose. So without further adieu, here’s a list of the 10 exercises that burn the most calories:

T1. Running:

running calories burned

Good old fashioned running tops the list. Running burns an average of 614 calories for a 155 pound person in 30 minutes. However, running speed plays a large role. The 614 number was for running 10 mph (a 6 minute mile). Running 8 minute miles drops the calories burned to 465. Running 10 minute miles drops the calories burned to 372. Just make sure you’ve got some decent running shoes, as the impact stress of running can be quite costly on your body. Consider getting something like Vessi footwear to give you the protection you need.

T1. Biking:

biking calories

Biking is tied with running atop the list. Biking also burns 614 calories in 30 minutes for a 155 pound person. Like running, speed matters. You have to bike at over 20 mph to burn 614 calories. If you drop your speed down to 16-19 mph, your calories burned fall to 446. If you don’t own a bike, spin classes are a great option!

3. Handball:

handball calories burned

One of the less common activities on the list, handball comes in at #3. Handball burns 446 calories per 30 minutes for a 155 pound person. I’ve never tried it, but it looks like fun!

T4. Rock Climbing:

calories burned rock climbing

Somewhat of a surprise, rock climbing comes in at #4. Rock climbing burns 409 calories in 30 minutes. So, find your local climbing gym or organize a group to go on a climbing trip. There are plenty of different places to go to do it as well, you can get guided climbing trips so you’re not alone if you don’t feel as comfortable with it yet.

T4. Swimming:


Swimming also burns 409 calories in 30 minutes. However, the stroke you choose matters. The butterfly and crawl burn 409 calories, where as the breaststroke burns 372 calories and the backstroke burns 298 calories.

6. Step Aerobics:

step aerobics calories burned

If you’re looking for an exercise class, step aerobics is another good bet. Step aerobics burns 372 calories in 30 minutes, but most step aerobics classes last longer than that.

T6. Marital Arts (Judo, Karate, Kickboxing):

martial arts calories

Martial arts (including judo, karate and kickboxing) also burns 372 calories in 30 minutes. Tai chi, although technically a martial art, only burns 149 calories though.

T6. Racquetball:

racquetball calories

If you’ve ever played racquetball, you’d understand why it appears on this list. Racquetball burns 372 calories in 30 minutes.

T6. Jumping Rope:

calories burned jumping rope

Jumping rope is probably the easiest exercise on this list to do. All you need is a jump rope and a few feet of space. Jumping rope also burns 372 calories in 30 minutes.

T6. Water Polo:

water polo calories

Rounding out the list is water polo, which involves a lot of treading water and swimming at top speed. Water polo also burns 372 calories in 30 minutes. Too bad it’s not more popular on the East coast!

Note: The data for this article was provided by Harvard University. 158 exercises and activities were included in all. The data was calculated for an average 155 pound person over 30 minutes. We removed firefighting from the list above since it’s not a reasonable option for most people.