When you think about your childhood summers, you probably have visions of staying out past dark, counting fireflies until your mom made you come back inside for dinner or spending your day adventuring all day at sleepaway camp. Though as kids, you didn’t think twice about moving around all day, you probably didn’t realize just how many calories outdoor play actually burns.
A 75-pound child can burn 400 calories playing an hour of basketball and about 300 calories playing an hour of football or soccer, Nikki Glor, a fitness professional, explains Outdoor activities like riding a bike burn about 135 calories an hour and jumping rope can burn about 350. Hiking or running around outside for an hour can burn up to 200 calories.
"That means a day filled with sports practice and outside playing time could reach up to almost 800 calories burned in one day,” Glor adds.
But what about as a grown-up? Though how many calories you burn is subject to your weight, the outside conditions, how long you work out and many other factors, generally speaking, outdoor playtime results in plenty of fat-burning. Here, fitness pros explain just how many calories you might shed when doing these summer adventures.
For those who aren’t big fans of running, getting in a cardio workout on wheels is a much more fun and enjoyable option. It’s also one that benefits more than just your heart rate according to fitness professional Nina R. Nyiri.
“Rollerblading and bicycle riding are two of my favorite pastimes because it gets you outdoors and it requires the use of larger muscle groups. You are using your entire lower body and core to maneuver and balance on the blades. And the same goes for bicycling,” she explains. “These are activities that are adult-friendly and allow you to burn anywhere from 50 to 400 calories depending on the intensity at which you ride and the duration of the activity.”
You might not realize that when you’re playing tag with your children, nieces or nephews or the neighborhood squad, you’re actually doing a form of exercise called high-intensity interval training. Because you’re frequently running and stopping, you’re working up your heart rate to an effective level and then resting, which is one of the most killer ways to work out.
“Studies show that 15 minutes of HIIT burns more calories than an hour of running on the treadmill. It boosts your metabolism while burning tons of calories in a short period of time,” Glor says. “Make it adult by adding it to your next BBQ or pool party with fun adult prizes. If it’s a big enough event, you can create fun T-shirts and teams or even make a league, complete with a wine-tasting after.”
Though as a kid you might have challenged yourself for hours to beat your top Skip It score, finding that throwback toy might be a tall order. But a jump rope? Available at every big-box store or dollar store (or really, anywhere that sells rope), it’s a fun way to enjoy the sunshine and work up a sweat. “Yes, it will require some coordination in the beginning, but once you get started, you can burn anywhere between 50 to 200 calories depending on the speed and the duration of the exercise,” Nyiri says.
“If when you think of swimming as exercise, you envision your grandma doing laps in her swim cap, think again,” Glor says. She’s right — there’s a reason Olympic swimmers are said to have the best bodies and highest level of endurance. Staying afloat and making laps requires precision and strength, even if you’re splashing about in the pool with pals. “Treading water can be one of the healthiest forms of exercise, as it puts no harsh strains on your joints, back or neck,” Glor says. “It engages muscles in the arms, legs and core, and you can burn up to 600 calories in an hour.”
Whether you’re scaling trees or mountains, finding the next ledge in an outdoor course or performing mountain climbers on the floor, this total-body movement is a calorie-burning superstar. “You have to engage your entire body, and it can be modified for everyone. Because you are using your entire body simultaneously, it can be quite intense and challenging,” Nyiri says. But in just 30 minutes? You can expect to burn 50 to 100 calories easily. Talk about having fun — and working out — by horsing around!
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