The Surprising Amount of Calories Summer Activities Burn

Life's a beach. We're just playing in the sand.

“Summer: hair gets lighter, skin gets darker, water gets warmer, drinks get colder, music gets louder, nights get longer, life gets better.”

Not to mention, bodies get fitter. From the beach to the pool, the ocean to the backyard, summertime is prime season for activities that burn mega calories, and you can take advantage of the sunny temps to dive right in and get a killer workout so you’ll be bikini-ready in no time.

One thing to keep in mind, of course, are the different factors that play into total calories burned, as this will vary by the individual. The first thing to take into account is your weight. The more you weigh, the more you burn in any activity. Another factor is your individual metabolism, which can sometimes look different between two people who weigh the same amount.

Wanna know how you can blast calories this summer while doing the activities you love? Read on for some top surprising ways you can have your best summer workout ever.


Get ready for Michael Phelps abs. Swimming is one of the most effective ways to torch mad calories in a dash this summer. And the benefits don’t stop there, since as a non-impact sport, swimming is easy on athletes with back or knee problems. Your total calorie burn depends on the stroke you choose. The calorie-burning king of swimming workouts is by far the butterfly — for a 130-pound person, an hour of butterfly strokes burns 649 calories, and for a 205-pound person, the move burns over 1,000 calories.

Beach running

Your beach bod is one beach run away. Running is already one of the top cardio exercises for maximum calorie burn, but when you take it to an uneven surface like a sandy beach, your body has to burn extra energy to stabilize itself and propel you from the sunken areas. Running at a 10-minute per mile pace (6 mph) burns an average of 300-400 calories per half hour of exercise, meaning that an hour-long run this summer can easily torch 800 calories! Plus, running on the beach increases leg strength more than running on an even surface, and helps to condition your lower body, from your ankles to your glutes, to your hamstrings and quadriceps. Your biceps, triceps and core are also engaged throughout the run, making for a total-body workout.


Just playing in the waves like when you were a kid is an amazingly effective workout, and you’ll have so much fun splashing around, you won’t even notice! No equipment is needed for this one—just swim out to the first wave you see and ride it out to the shore. Depending on the time of day, the strength of the current, and size and speed of the waves, the intensity of bodyboarding can vary. In general, though, the childlike activity burns up to 400 calories per hour for a 145 pound person, and you can work on that golden summer tan while you’re at it!


Game, set, match! The calorie burn is on with this classic high-intensity, aerobic sport. As you run and chase the ball, you’re in a constant cardio state, while also improving your agility as you must react quickly to your opponent’s serve. Not only is this a killer cardio workout, but you’ll be toning your whole body as you lunge and hit the ball—from your legs and glutes, to your abs, arms, back and shoulders. For the most effective tennis sweat sesh, opt for a game of singles, which can burn 414 calories per hour for a 150-pound person.

Yard work

This healthy hobby may arguably take the lead as the most surprising way to burn calories this summer. Many people might not immediately think of gardening as the best activity for getting in shape. However, depending on what yard projects you are tackling, your day will likely include squatting, digging, lifting, pushing and getting in tons of steps, too, for a mix of cardio and strength, and upper and lower body movements.

A 150-pound person can burn up to 350 calories an hour while doing light gardening, but more extreme yard tasks can burn even more. Raking and bagging leaves clocks in at almost 450 calories per hour, and landscaping and moving rocks and dirt torches 600 calories per hour. The best part? Since you’re not in a traditional “workout” mindset, you won’t be watching the clock or feeling as if you’re in a tortuous workout, since you’re doing an activity you enjoy and taking in the beauty of your garden.

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