Which Exercise Burns More Calories?

by Estelle Low
FITNESS  |  September 20, 2017
  • Some workouts torch more calories than the others
    1 / 19 Some workouts torch more calories than the others

    For many of us, working out = burning calories = staying in shape.

    But some exercises are better calorie-burners than the others. Running or swimming? Spinning or cycling? Tennis or badminton? Click right to find out.

    Calories burned are estimated based on a 60kg woman.

    Photos: 123rf.com

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  • Running or Swimming?
    2 / 19 Running or Swimming?

    They are both effective cardio exercises. The main difference is, running is high-impact while swimming is low-impact. Question is, should you hit the road or the pool?

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  • Winner: Swimming
    3 / 19 Winner: Swimming

    Unless you’re running faster than 9.6km/hour (or a 6:15/km pace), you’re better off swimming. Breaststroke or freestyle, you’ll burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes. Running at 8.3km/hour burns 270 calories, slightly less than swimming.

    Here’s another reason to choose swimming: You feel less tired in the water, as the surrounding temperature cools you down. (The fatigue will kick in after you leave the pool!) This means you can push yourself to do more laps. Also, when you’re in an outdoor pool, your body needs to work harder to maintain your core temperature, which means more calories used.

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  • Spinning or Outdoor cycling?
    4 / 19 Spinning or Outdoor cycling?

    Again, it’s cardio versus cardio. Some people swear by spinning, citing the loud-music setting as a big motivator. Others would rather take their bike out to get into nature. Which one gives you more burn?

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  • Winner: Outdoor cycling
    5 / 19 Winner: Outdoor cycling

    In spinning, you’ll be asked to turn the resistance up a notch or two periodically, and even pedal with your butt off the seat. However, outdoor cycling is more challenging on the whole.

    An hour of moderate-pace cycling burns 480 calories. For spinning, it’s 420 calories. On the road, you are forced to engage all senses, and your core, at all times. Let your guard down for a second, and safety may be compromised. Plus, when you explore different routes, you will encounter unanticipated uphills and tricky terrains, which is additional resistance plus effort for you.

    (Also read: 10 Fantastic Cycling Routes in Singapore)

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  • Zumba Or Kickboxing?
    6 / 19 Zumba Or Kickboxing?

    Zumba is mega fun, and so is kickboxing. Both group exercise classes are great for relieving stress, and making you sweat a ton. Which should you sign up for?

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  • Winner: Kickboxing
    7 / 19 Winner: Kickboxing

    Comparing both 60-minute workouts, kickboxing wins with 606 calories burned per hour, versus zumba at 528 calories. (Also read: 5 Ways Boxing Gets You Into Shape)

    Kickboxing requires more muscle activation overall, particularly in your arms, core and legs. You will need to adopt the right posture and engage specific muscles to execute the moves properly. Otherwise, you might end up with injuries. For instance, a cross punch requires you to send the energy from your hip all the way to your arm. In zumba, the instructor doesn’t go around checking your form and making sure you engage your core, because the emphasis is on fun and spontaneity.

    That said, zumba is still a great calorie-burner, so it’s better to zumba than sit on your sofa!

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  • Tennis or Badminton?
    8 / 19 Tennis or Badminton?

    Both are racquet sports that require at least two players. Is there a major calorie difference between tennis and badminton?

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  • Winner: Tennis
    9 / 19 Winner: Tennis

    Playing singles tennis burns roughly 480 calories in 60 minutes, compared to 420 calories for singles badminton.

    Both games require running across the court to receive the ball or shuttlecock. But tennis is slightly more strenuous as each stroke requires a wider range of motion than badminton. Also, tennis racquets are heavier than badminton racquets, which means you need more upper body strength in tennis.

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  • Kayaking or Stationary rowing?
    10 / 19 Kayaking or Stationary rowing?

    So you like to row, row, row your boat. Should you head outdoors or go to the gym?

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  • Winner: Stationary rowing
    11 / 19 Winner: Stationary rowing

    If you are all about the calorie burn, hit the gym. Better still, look up a rowing interval workout plan so you don’t row at the same speed and resistance throughout.

    An hour of moderate-intensity rowing torches 420 calories, while an hour of kayaking burns (sadly) just 300 calories. Of course, if you are a water baby, kayaking for 1.5 hours or more beats an hour of rowing.

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  • Yoga Or Calisthenics?
    12 / 19 Yoga Or Calisthenics?

    Yoga and calisthenics are forms of body-weight training – that is, training without equipment and using the body’s weight as resistance. In yoga, you do poses that build strength, balance and flexibility. Calisthenics focuses on moving with strength, flexibility and grace, like in gymnastics. Military-type exercises like push-ups and pull-ups are the core of calisthenics.

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  • Winner: Calisthenics
    13 / 19 Winner: Calisthenics

    An hour of moderate-effort calisthenics with exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups burns about 210 calories. Ramp up the intensity (with more reps and less resting time) and you’ll torch 480 calories.

    By contrast, an hour of hatha yoga burns about 150 calories.

    (Also read: 9 Bodyweight Exercises You Should Be Doing)


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  • Rope jumping or Jumping jacks?
    14 / 19 Rope jumping or Jumping jacks?

    You want a quick cardio workout without leaving the house. Should you grab the skipping rope or do jumping jacks?

    (Also read: The Best Group Fitness Classes in Singapore – Tried & Tested)

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  • Winner: Rope jumping
    15 / 19 Winner: Rope jumping

    Grab the rope. Skipping with the rope burns almost 20 per cent more calories than doing jumping jacks.

    In 15 minutes, you can burn 150 calories by skipping (or 180 calories if you’re fast), versus 125 calories doing jumping jacks vigorously.

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  • Hiking or Horseback riding?
    16 / 19 Hiking or Horseback riding?

    You’re headed for the great outdoors. Take a hike or go horseback riding?

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  • Winner: Hiking
    17 / 19 Winner: Hiking

    Going uphill and navigating rocky terrain burns nearly twice the amount of calories as horseback riding.

    An hour of hiking with an under-5kg load slashes 426 calories, while an hour of horseback riding takes away only 240 calories.

    Not sure where to start? Check out these amazing hiking trails in Singapore.


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  • Stair climbing or Brisk walking?
    18 / 19 Stair climbing or Brisk walking?

    Assuming you go at the same speed, which activity is more value for time?

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  • Winner: Stair climbing
    19 / 19 Winner: Stair climbing

    It’s pretty obvious, and the stats show: Stair climbing burns 240 calories an hour, while brisk walking only nets 114 calories.

    Besides clocking steps, stair-climbing also fires up your glutes, major muscles that brisk walking doesn’t tap as much into. And you know what they say: Work big muscles, get big results.

    (Also read: 11 Simple Ways to Increase Your Daily Calorie Burn)

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