Top Athletically Challenging Recreational Sports

Top Athletically Challenging Recreational Sports

Getting in shape does not always have to be done in the gym. It is forgotten by a lot of people that sports are a great way to keep in shape and have fun. Sports are also a great way to develop muscles that are not usually hit in most workouts and improve your coordination. I have compiled a list of 7 commonly played sports and ranked them on how many calories per hour a person burns when playing them.



A full body resistance and cardio workout is essentially what swimming laps are. Unlike running, swimming is a low impact activity on your joints and engages your entire your body in physical activity, not just your legs. When doing swimming as a workout, you are able to work your arms, legs, core and back because of the nature of the movements. Do not expect to gain muscle mass by swimming as it is an endurance exercise and the resistance provided by the water will not put enough stress on your muscles to activate your high twitch muscle fibers. In one hour of swimming laps at a high pace (IE not sprinting but not too leisurely) you can burn 800 calories.



Tennis requires a unique blend of speed; coordination and core strength as hitting the ball in a controlled manner to your desired spot requires a lot of skill and athleticism. The stop and start sprinting required to chase down balls can get quite exhausting. Tennis players run an estimated 3 to 4 miles in one match. Unlike a regular jog at this distance, when you are playing tennis you are doing stop and start sprints making it more intense and burning more calories than a normal run. In one hour of playing tennis you can burn 750 calories. However since there is no timer in tennis, matches can get quite lengthy which will give you an even better workout



Unlike hockey when you are playing basketball you are on the court for the majority of the game. The game requires you to be constantly moving whether you are using stop and start running in the offensive or defensive zone, or if you are hustling up or down the court to get on offense or defense. In a full court basketball game a player will run around 2 miles total. Add in the fact that you are sprinting and jumping and you have got yourself a difficult workout. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine just shooting hoops will allow you to burn 300 calories in one hour while a full court game burns about 747 calories in an hour.


Flag Football

Unlike organized contact football you have to play offence and defense, which can get pretty tiring. Sprinting up and down the field either trying to catch an opponent or get away from him requires speed and agility. The interval sprinting required in flag football is a great cardio workout. A one-hour game of flag football will allow you to burn around 700 calories in a 60-minute game.



There is a reason that professional soccer players’ bodies look like they are chiseled out of stone. Soccer is a highly intense cardio workout as you are always moving around a large field. Due to this constant motion it is estimated that in one game you will run as much as 7 miles total and for pros up to 9.5 miles. These numbers do differ depending on the position that you play: midfield requires the most running, defense and striker are slightly less and goalie requires very few running. If you are player in a soccer game you can burn around 1,000 calories in a 90-minute game (667 calories per hour)



Golf can be a surprisingly physically challenging sport physically without a power cart that is. The average golf course is about 6500 yards long or about 3.7 miles. Add in the fact that you are not walking in a straight line and the distance between each hole; and you have got a walk that is over 5 miles long. On top of this long walk you also have to carry your 12-kilogram golf bag and that you are exerting yourself when hitting the golf ball and you have got yourself a pretty intense workout. Even just going to the driving range and hitting balls will burn 200 calories in an hour because of the exertion spent striking the ball. This is why it is estimated that 18 holes of golf can burn 1,400 calories or 350 calories per hour (assuming one round takes 4 hours to complete). Additional calories can be burned getting angry when you are not playing so well (just joking).



Unlike many of the other sports on this list hockey requires no running and a lot of equipment. On average a hockey player’s equipment weighs about 20 pounds. That is 20 pounds that a player has to move around the ice with at all times. Add this to the fact that on average a hockey player skates around 5 miles per game mostly at full speed and you have got yourself a tiring sport. However because of its highly exertive nature a player will not be playing more than 20 minutes in a 60-minute game. That means that for 40 minutes in one game a player is resting. In one game a hockey player burns about 350 calories because much of the game is spent resting.


Although muscle mass is born primarily in the gym, sports are a great way to stay in shape. Sports also foster character aspects that are not seen in the gym as well. While you develop your physique playing sports you are also developing your character and personality through teamwork and relationships with teammates and competitors. As Plato once said: “You can discover more about a person in one hour of play than in a year of conversation.”