November 5, 2010

Let's Get Real - How Many Calories Can I Burn Playing Tennis?

So you think tennis is a really great workout? Not so fast, my volley-slamming friend. Let's calculate how many calories you can really burn off playing tennis.

We all know how to lose weight - burn off more calories than you take in. The question then is how many calories can you burn off by playing tennis?

I went on-line and found several sources to tell me what the calorie burn is for tennis. I first checked out, an on-line site that lets you easily keep track of your calories taken in and calories worked off. (This site also has an iPhone/iTouch app that is very easy to use.) Myfitnesspal gives these calorie counts for tennis:
  • Tennis, General - 408 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Doubles - 291 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Singles - 466 calories per hour
Another site that gives calorie counts is This site has a Physical Activity/Exercise Database that you can search to find the number of calories you burn while exercising. The little twist with Fitwatch is that you enter your weight to find the number of calories burned, so presumably the calorie count is a little more customized. For me, at my weight (which I am not telling you), here's what Fitwatch has to say about calories burned during tennis:
  • Tennis, General - 433 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Doubles - 371 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Singles - 495 calories per hour
And then I visited a third site - Again, with this one, you had to enter your weight to get the calories burned calculation. They had this to say about calories burned during tennis:
  • Tennis, General - 414 calories per hour
  • Tennis, Doubles - 295 or 355 calories per hour (there were two different kinds of doubles)
  • Tennis, Singles - 473 calories per hour
With these figures in mind, I'm guessing that, in doubles, you probably burn off about 300 calories an hour and, in singles, you can burn off about 450 calories an hour. And when calculating how many hours you've played, be sure and deduct some for all of that time spent standing around, chatting, drinking water and running to the bathroom between sets.

Now remember - it doesn't do any good to burn calories playing tennis if you're just packing them back in by mindlessly eating. To give an example, let's say you're at a match waiting to play. Let's say your league requires the home team to provide snacks and the usual junk is out there. So while you're waiting, you have a banana (90 calories), 10 peanut M&Ms (103 calories) and 3 mini Reese's peanut butter cups (132 calories). You've now taken in 325 calories without eating a real meal. You have to play a solid hour of doubles to burn those mindless snacks off. (Unfortunately, this is pretty representative of what I do while I'm standing around waiting to play.) Conclusion - play a lot of tennis and stay away from the M&Ms!

This post originally appeared on Tennis Fixation's blog page on the Tennis Now website. Click here to read this and other great Tennis Fixation posts on Tennis Now!

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

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