If you want to lose weight, it's important to find an activity that you enjoy and can stick to - and which also burns lots of calories! Here are 10 activities which burn more than 400 calories an hour, based on research by the Mayo Clinic.
How many calories you burn will depend on your weight, body type, gender and other factors – and of course, how vigorously you exercise! For each activity, we've listed how many calories an average person weighing 160 pounds (11st 4lb) can expect to burn - followed by how much someone who weighs 200 pounds (14st 2lb) might expend.
See also: Exercises to avoid midlife aches and pains
1. Hiking: 438 calories/hour 546 calories/hour
You don't need to spend a fortune on a gym membership to get in shape. Invest in a pair of decent hiking boots and head to the hills. You'll burn as many calories an hour as you will on an indoor rowing machine – plus the fresh air and beautiful scenery will do you good.
2. Ice skating: 511 calories/hour 637 calories/hour
Skidding about the ice like Bambi isn't going to do help you lose weight, but if you learn to skate properly, you can expect to burn upwards of 500 calories an hour.
3. High-impact aerobics: 533 calories/hour 664 calories/hour
Remember the days of working out to Jane Fonda? Good old-fashioned aerobics is hard to beat if you want to burn fat. If there aren't any classes near you, try an exercise DVD at home. There are plenty of inspirational celebrity workouts, and you can't go wrong with Davina McCall – the undisputed queen of home workouts.
4. Rollerblading: 548 calories/hour 683 calories/hour
Recreational rollerblading (as opposed to athlete level) burns a surprising number of calories. Of course, your balance has to be good enough to stay upright.
5. Tennis, singles: 584 calories/hour 728 calories/hour
Tennis is a tough sport, especially if you play singles. Not only will you get a great cardio workout that strengthens your heart and lungs, you'll also be toning your legs and arms.
6. Running up stairs: 657 calories/hour 819 calories/hour
They say to take the stairs instead of the lift, and it's good advice. If you can run up them rather than walk, even better. Running up stairs (or working out on a step machine/StairMaster) is a fantastic way to torch fat – get buns of steel in the process.
7. Fast lap-swimming: 715 calories/hour 892 calories/hour
Swimming is a great all-round workout that won't put stress on your joints. While a gentle breast stroke is relaxing, you'll need to put some effort in to burn calories. A vigorous front crawl without taking too many pauses will burn a whopping 715 calories/hour 892 calories/hour.
8. Taekwondo: 752 calories/hour 937 calories/hour
For an intense workout that will keep you motivated, take up a competitive martial arts like Taekwondo, Muay Thai, jujitsu, or karate. Taekwondo, which burns upwards of 750 calories an hour, will improve your cardio fitness, muscle strength, balance and agility - as well as helping to keep you supple.
9. Skipping with a rope: 861 calories/hour 1,074 calories/hour
The simplest workouts can be the most effective. Skipping with a rope will burn upwards of 800 calories an hour – although in fairness, most people can only manage a few minutes before they need to take a breather.
If you're short on time, skipping is a great high-intensity workout that you can do in short bursts throughout the day. Set yourself the challenge of skipping for three minutes without stopping three times each day, and then work up to 10-minute sessions with rest breaks. Keep at it, and you'll soon notice an improvement in your fitness and your waistline.
10. Running, 8 mph: 861 calories/hour 1,074 calories/hour
If you want to torch fat, running is one of the best exercises there is. Run at a cracking 8mph (at that pace you would run a mile in 7 minutes, 30 seconds) and you will burn upwards of 850 calories an hour.
If you're not at that level, work up to it by jogging for three minutes, then running fast for a minute, and then drop back to walking. Repeat - gradually increasing the time you spend running each day.
... or just go for a brisk walk
If that all sounds too much, going for a brisk walk can burn a surprising number of calories. While not enough to make this list, walking at 3.5mph will burn 314 calories an hour for someone who weighs 160 pounds (11st 4lbs) and 391 calories/hour for a person weighing 200 pounds (14st 2lb).
The Ramblers Association organise walks for different age groups – so you can choose to join ones specially for the over 50s – and operate in most parts of the UK. Visit www.ramblers.org.uk to find your nearest group.