By Elizabeth Narins
Like it or not, running makes for a really great cardio workout: Maintain a six-mile per hour pace, and you’ll burn upwards of 557* calories in one hour! And even if running that fast for that long** seems like a bit of a stretch, you can still burn an impressive 398 calories per hour by jogging.
What’s that? You loathe any sport that involves putting one foot in front of the other in quick succession? Don’t sweat it. There are plenty of other activities that just as effective in the calorie-burning department — and markedly less torturous
1. Cycling: Peddling on a stationary bike can burn just as many calories as jogging (398 calories) — even though you get to sit down while you do it. Dust off your old mountain bike or take a vigorous indoor cycling class, and you’ll incinerate even more calories: Both burn about 483 per hour, depending on your speed and resistance.
2. Jet Skiing: You’ll never guess how many calories you burn just by driving a jet ski: 398 in an hour! (For the record, that’s 86 more calories than you’d burn horseback riding, which is sorta, kinda similar.) Experts say the water sport engages your core, quads, hamstrings, and upper body because it requires constant balance and effort to keep your body upright.
3. Walking Uphill With a Load: Turns out there is a benefit to schlepping around tons of stuff. Add about 10 pounds to your backpack (a few books or beverages should do the trick), and head for high altitude (like that great boutique at the top of the hill). You’ll burn about 415 calories per hour at a regular walking pace (usually about four miles per hour) — that’s 57 more than you’d burn on a standard stroll without the baggage.
4. In-Line Skating: Granted, it’s like running on wheels. But even if rollerblading didn’t burn 426 calories per hour, it’d still be more fun than jogging. Whee!
5. Dancing: Aerobic dance can burn upwards of 443 calories per hour. And yes, sweaty Saturday-night dance parties totally count.
6. Rock Climbing: You’ll burn about 454 calories per hour on your way up and 284 per hour on your way down.
7. Jumping Rope: Your favorite childhood playground game is actually an incredible workout. Depending on your pace and intensity, it can burn about 670 calories an hour. Shoot for at least 100 skips per minute to get the most bang for your bounce.
8. Rowing: While rowing may sound like a low-key, sit-on-your-butt-while-you-sweat kind of sport, it’s actually enormously effective. Because you actually row with your arms and your legs, it seriously puts your body through the wringer, burning about 682 calories in a 60-minute, high-intensity session.
9. Boxing: Boxing doesn’t just look fierce — it delivers. Get your gloves in the ring to burn about 727 calories in an hour. (Or, try a less-intimidating kickboxing class to burn 585 calories in a 60-minute session.)
10. Swimming: You can’t lose with breaststroke (585 calories per hour), backstroke (540 calories per hour), or butterfly (784 calories per hour) at a moderate to vigorous pace.
11. Running Up Stairs: OK, OK, so this one’s technically just as painful as actually running. But it can be more practical than running nowhere, especially for people who live in walk-up apartments. And it helps that scaling steps can burn almost 300 more calories than running on flat ground. That’s 852 calories per hour and completely worth the trip.
*All estimates are based on one hour of activity for a 125-pound person, as per the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and calorie calculations based on that research. If you weight more than 125, you’ll burn slightly more calories from these activities. If you weigh less, you burn slightly fewer calories.
**If you only sweat for 30 minutes, just halve the calorie counts listed above to find out approximately how many calories you’ve burned.