What Summer Outdoor Activities Burn the Most Calories?

Fitness Tips

What Summer Outdoor Activities Burn the Most Calories?

After the long and rough winter most of us have had, we’re sure you’re feeling the cabin fever just like we are.

It should come as no surprise that we’re ready to shrug off our winter jackets and start incorporating some outdoor sports and adventures back into our exercise routines. Which led us to wonder, which outdoor activities give the most calorie-burning bang for the buck?

Following is a list of our favorite get-out-in-nature pastimes along with some information on their benefits to help get you get the most effective workout and burn the most calories.

Hiking: Up to 370 calories/hour

One of the best ways to get your nature on is to strap on a pair of hiking shoes and hit the open trails. Not only is hiking meditative and great for soothing frazzled nerves, but trekking up and down uneven terrain also gives your body a terrific cardiorespiratory workout while improving muscular fitness. And you might even spot some animals along the way! For a person of average size, hiking can burn up to 370 calories/hour.

Tennis: Up to 560 calories/hour

With the constant movement required during a tennis match (and a match's length), it’s a no-brainer that this summertime favorite is a great cardio workout. The explosive movements can also tighten up the muscles in your arms, back, legs, and core. It’s not bad at burning off excess calories either, coming in at 560 calories/hour.

Rock Climbing: Up to 750 calories/hour

For many people, a sheer rock face isn’t a sign that they should turn back; rather, it’s a challenge to scale it and see what’s on top.

Climbing has become so popular in the United States that there are entire gyms dedicated to getting people off the ground and dangling from walls. Of course, climbing is a great way to tone up your arms, but it's also an intense workout for the back, chest, abs, and legs as well. On top of that, rock climbing can burn up to a whopping 750 calories/hour.

Soccer: Up to 700 calories/hour

Though professional soccer still isn’t as popular stateside as it is in other countries, plenty of us have spent a summer afternoon playing a game of pickup soccer. It’s a great cardio workout that helps build strength in your legs and core muscles. Playing soccer for an hour can burn around 700 calories.


Canoeing or Kayaking: Up to 850 calories/hour

Getting out in a self-propelled boat on the open water and feeling the summer breeze in your hair is a wonderful way to commune with nature, while sneaking in a workout at the same time. Paddling a canoe or kayak at a moderate pace will burn off almost 500 calories/hour, while picking up the pace a bit can net a calorie burn upwards of 850 calories/hour.

Frisbee: Up to 210 calories/hour

Nothing screams of summer quite like finding an open meadow and tossing a Frisbee back and forth with a friend. Turns out, it isn't a bad way to add a little bit more exercise into your day. All that running, jumping, and wrist-flicking adds up to around 210 calories burned/hour.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding: Up to 500 calories/hour

Invented in Hawaii as a way for surfers to get out further from shore to catch bigger waves, stand up paddle boarding is an activity that’s rapidly gaining popularity.

In fact, stand up paddling garnered the highest number of new participants last year. While participants may look calm as they paddle across the water, stand up paddling actually requires engagement of a lot of different muscle groups, especially core muscles which are necessary for keeping one’s balance on the board. All this can add up to a burn of 500 calories/hour.

Swimming: Up to 900 calories/hour

Most outdoor community pools open on the same day we all consider the unofficial start to summer: Memorial Day.

The gentle resistance that water gives is easy on joints, but it’s also great for getting some extra exercise in (although it isn't tremendously effective for weight loss). Even just splashing around playing a game of Marco Polo will burn around 400 calories/hour, while doing the butterfly stroke can push that number up to 900 calories/hour for a 180-pound swimmer.


Golf: Up to 400 calories/hour

Of course, while there are some diehard golfers who will hit the links on a marginally warm day in the dead of winter, most people enjoy playing when the summer sun is out. Though some people joke that golf is more of a game and less of a sport, it’s actually a great way to get exercise. A typical round of golf -- sans golf cart and if you’re toting around your own clubs -- burns somewhere between 300 and 400 calories/hour.

What are your favorite outdoor activities to keep fit in the summertime? Let us know in the comments.