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At the top of the list are running at 8 miles per hour (mph) and jumping rope. Tae kwon do and vigorous swimming are next. Then come stair-stepping and running at 5 mph. Playing basketball, singles tennis and football are close behind. Rounding out the list are rollerblading, high-impact aerobics, backpacking, ice skating, racquetball and cross-country skiing.
Calorie expenditure per hour for a person weighing 160 pounds:
- Running at 8 mph, jumping rope: 861 calories.
- Tae kwon do: 752 calories.
- Vigorous lap swimming: 715 calories.
- Stair-stepping: 657 calories.
- Running at 5 mph: 606 calories.
- Basketball, singles tennis, football: 584 calories.
- Rollerblading: 548 calories.
- High-impact aerobics: 533 calories.
- Backpacking, ice skating, racquetball: 511 calories.
- Cross-country skiing: 496 calories.
Keep in mind that the more you weigh and the higher the intensity of your workout, the more you burn -- a runner weighing 240 pounds will burn about 50 percent more than a 160-pound runner.
Also, vigorous activity burns more calories than moderate activity, so while running at a pace of 5 mph burns 606 calories in 60 minutes, running at an 8-mph pace burns over 40 percent more.
Most of these high burners are also high impact. They help build and maintain strong bones and are great for cardio conditioning. But if you have osteoporosis, are considerably overweight, or have arthritis or certain other medical problems, they might not be right for you. Talk to your doctor first.
Also, build up your endurance gradually. Don't rush into an hour-long workout -- you need the right plan to get there.
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