Forbes recently revealed the 10 healthiest sports in the world, using factors size as calories burned, injury risk, and muscular strength and endurance (among others) in their assessment. Without further ado, here is the list for all of you eager beavers:
Although squash players must be wary of flying racquets coming from their opponent’s direction, squash is a relatively safe game for beginners. Most impressive, experienced squash players can burn more than 1000 calories per hour during extended rallies and constant running around all four corners of the court. Flexibility is a must for squash success, as are cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Playing squash can also improve quickness and lower body strength.
Rowers are able to build strength and endurance throughout their body without having to rely on potentially dangerous weight-bearing exercises. For those without access to a boat, the rowing machines found at many gyms provide a full-body workout that builds lean muscles. Although the caloric output is not nearly as intensive as sports such as squash, rowing remains a healthy and time-tested activity for those looking to build physical fitness.
(3) Rock Climbing
Rock climbing provides an impressive anaerobic experience, requiring short bursts of energy followed by extended periods of static rest. The alternation of muscular stretching and contracting builds long, lean muscles that are devoid of the bulk caused by weight-lifting. One downside to rock climbing: as it is exclusively anaerobic, it doesn’t do much for the ticker. Our fourth healthiest sport, however…
The biggest benefits of swimming are the cardiovascular health and muscular endurance that it provides. Interval training, in particular, can be quite effective in promoting weight loss and strength training. Swim two lengths of the pool as fast as you can (while maintaining proper form), stop to catch your breath, and repeat.
(5) Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing provides a full body workout that’s hard to top. By its very nature, the warming of the muscles on a cold, wintery day recruits an elevated metabolism that melts calories. The unpredictability of varying terrains and conditions taxes muscles in a way that’s foreign to many other linear motions. Cross-country skiing is predominantly a sport of endurance, benefitting the heart and muscular system.
If it weren’t for basketball’s inherent injury risk from frequent stops, turns, starts, and twists, it would place significantly higher on this list. The short bursts of energy that are required for jumping, fast-breaks, and directional changes provide for anaerobic development. And were that not enough, the continuous movement allows for cardiovascular health.
Cycling if the king of endurance sports. It attracts ex-runners who wish to avoid joint injuries yet continue to maintain their cardovascular and muscular endurance. Unfortunately, cycling doesn’t provide for leg flexibility or upper body strength so supplementation is required for a true, full-body workout. And despite its reputation as running’s lower-risk cousin, injuries are actually quite prevalent among cyclists.
Cardiovascular and muscular (especially the lower body) endurance are noted for being the biggest benefits of a regular running regiment. Those who run several miles several times per week will also experience weight loss and a stable metabolism. Unfortunately, running doesn’t condition the upper body so cross-training is needed for a full-body workout. And as many are aware, the injury risk to runners is quite high with common injuries including stress fractures and shin splints.
The modern pentathlon combines five distinct events: swimming, running, fencing, distance shooting, and equestrian jumping. Endurance of both the cardivoascular and muscular systems are especially required for successful pentathletes while muscular strength and flexibility also play their role. While not as trendy or well-known as the other sports on this list, the modern pentathlon remains a healthy way to pass the time!
Dancing around the boxing ring provides for considerable cardiovascular training while the muscular endurance and strength needed to throw punches provides for a total, full-body workout. The typical training regiment of a boxer — speed bags, sparring, jump-roping — is a healthy workout itself. For some extra spunk, try a kickboxing class that will recruit the muscles of the lower body more frequently.