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The Childhood Hobbies That Double As Incredible Calorie-Burning Workouts

The fun games you loved as a kid are still serious calorie-torching workouts. Trainer Tricia Somma gives us the best exercises for your inner child—and your waistline.

Unrecognizable sportswoman jumping rope on a bridge.Drazen Zigic/Getty Images

Jumping rope

Jump ropes are easy to tuck into a purse or beach bag for a spontaneous workout. The calorie burn will vary depending on your pace. If you’re skipping fewer than 100 skips per minute or using a two-footed skip by alternating your feet, an average 150-pound woman can expect to burn 10.5 calories per minute, or 630 calories an hour. Amp up the intensity to a moderate pace (100–120 skips per minute) and the burn increases to 845 calories per hour. If you want an extra challenge, trainer Tricia Somma says to try a weighted rope. This has the added bonus of also helping you build muscle. Jumping rope on a soft surface like sand reduces the impact of landing on your joints, while also forcing your body to exert more energy to launch off the ground, which increases your overall calorie burn.

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Hula hooping

This hip-engaging activity has had a resurgence in recent years, with fitness experts advocating for the old-fashioned game that can burn up to 6.92 calories per minute or 415 calories per hour. Whether you hula hoop to music or to your own rhythm, this fun physical activity can be done almost anywhere.  Read how one woman lost 40 pounds just by hula hooping!


Roller skating

Depending on the intensity, donning around in wheeled footwear will burn between 415 and 881 calories per hour. Somma emphasizes the importance of wearing safety gear. “A helmet, safety pads, and wrist guards are not just for kids,” she says. “Protect yourself and limit your risk of scrapes, bumps, and broken bones. Stay on recreational paths for a smoother ride and pay attention to your surroundings.”

skateboardYulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock


Prefer a board? Skateboarding can be a great way to get where you need to go and provide an excellent workout—358 calories per hour, to be exact, for an average 150-pound woman. Somma recommends seeking out hills to increase the overall intensity and calorie burn. Don’t forget your helmet and safety padding, and watch out for sidewalk cracks and bumps!



Goofy hopscotch rhyming aside, just a one-minute round of hopscotch will burn 6.92 calories, and torch 415 calories in a single hour. Not interested in sticking to a hopscotch court? Skipping will net you a similar calorie burn. Just ignore the weird looks—you’re smoking some serious calories!

dodgeballNares Soumsomboon/Shutterstock

Dodge ball/tetherball

Not only is this a great cardio workout, but the throwing/hitting action in these two games will give you a solid arm and core workout as well; an hour-long game will net you a calorie burn of 415. Many community gyms and YMCAs have adult dodge ball programs, so you can make new friends or have yours join in too.

bikeChetty Thomas/Shutterstock

Bike riding

While the calorie burn can vary quite a bit based on effort, bike riding is a great cardio and leg workout. Leisurely biking on the road will burn 251 calories an hour, but if you detour to a dirt road or path, your calorie burn will bump up to 415 calories an hour. Add in hills for more intensity, and don’t forget the helmet!



The trick with swimming is to keep moving, says Somma. “The faster you swim, the more calories you burn,” she says. A leisurely swim will net you 430 calories burned in an hour, while a faster pace will boost the burn. Looking to just chat with friends? Try treading water to keep a slow and steady calorie burn going. A 15-minute conversation while treading water can help you burn an additional 63 calories. Check out the 10 swimming workouts that burn major calories.


Playing catch

There’s no more classic childhood pastime than an old fashioned game of catch. Luckily, this easy backyard activity can also do double duty as a workout, burning 179 calories per hour. Feeling a little competitive? “Switching to a game of softball or baseball will double your calorie burn,” says Somma.

soccerDragon Images/Shutterstock

Kicking a ball around

If throwing sports aren’t your style, consider playing pass with a kickball or soccer ball, which can burn up to 215 calories in an hour. Want more? “Make it a game,” says Somma. “A casual game of soccer or switching to kickball will up the calorie burn more than double to 502 calories per hour.”

trampolineAlinute Silzeviciute/Shutterstock

Jumping on a trampoline

Low impact workout, high calorie burn! At 251 calories an hour, this fun childhood activity is great for working out your legs, hip stabilizers, and core. Remember, while it may be fun to jump around with others, the injury risk is increased when you have multiple jumpers on a trampoline, so it’s important to keep your wits about you. Here are 5 more reasons to add trampolines into your fitness routine.


Climbing trees

This full-body workout is a great outside alternative to rock climbing and a great way to get in touch with nature. You’ll burn 5.97 calories per minute scaling trees, which adds up to 358 per hour. Need to brush up on your skills? Cornell University offers a PE course in tree climbing.

hackysackJim Lambert/Shutterstock

Hacky sack

The foot-eye coordination game that became popular in the 1970s and became a staple on college campuses is surprisingly good for you; you can burn up to 286 calories per hour. Need a hacky sack? Here’s how to make one out of an orphan sock.

minigolfAndrey Kuzmin/Shutterstock

Mini golf

There’s no need to worry about the length of your drive—this favorite childhood pastime is accessible to golfers of all abilities, and burns 215 calories per hour. Bonus if you can find a venue that has stairs or uphill climbs, which will increase your calorie burn while you walk around the course. These are the workouts that burn the most calories, according to science.

Lisa Gabrielson McCurdy
An alumna of American University in Washington, D.C., Lisa has a passion for storytelling and strategic communication. She has professional experience in a number of fields, from writing and editing to brand management and marketing, and has been published in numerous multimedia outlets. Outside of work, Lisa's interests include photography, sailing, traveling, art history, cooking, and running. She is dedicated to the continued development of women and girl's education across the globe, as well as animal rescue programs in the United States. She currently lives in Newport, Rhode Island.

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