Eat, Play, Lose: Playing Your Way to the Perfect Weight


If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’ve tried to lose weight at some point in your life. It seems to be the go-to topic for discussion with forums, talk-shows, and magazines entirely dedicated to the delicate art of shedding unwanted pounds.

Even those of us with the best of intentions struggle from time to time. After all, not everyone enjoys going to the gym, running fictional miles on a treadmill, or risk getting trapped by the bar while bench pressing let alone starving ourselves thin.

Thankfully, there’s a secret to getting healthy and losing weight, and it turns out that burning calories can be even easier than any of us thought. Let’s get back to the basics.

Rather than stress yourself out about a trip to the gym, just go play a game or two. Plus, your family can join the fun and get a work out too!

Before We Get to the Good Stuff…Secret of Losing Weight

Each activity suggested burns a certain number of calories (obviously). The calorie burn listed here is based on a participant who weighs about 150 pounds. If you weigh more, you’ll burn more.  If you weigh less, you’ll burn less. Ok. Now to the good stuff…


If you like hitting balls with mallets but don’t want to find a horse for polo, then this sport is for you. Hitting balls precisely through wickets – surprisingly enough – can burn over 150 calories! So in addition to being something anyone can play regardless of athleticism, it also provides an easy calorie burn.


Tossing bean bags is a surprisingly great way to steadily burn calories. If you aren’t familiar with the fairly new game, check the cornhole rules here. Fortunately, cornhole rules are just as easy to understand as the calorie burn is to achieve – just shy of 200 per hour! Call everyone in the family out to the backyard – the game is super simple and anyone can work out…er…play!

Lawn bowling

Everybody knows how to bowl. But rolling the ball in the backyard is much healthier – you get to enjoy the fresh air! Plus, you can grab healthy snacks from your fridge rather than subject yourself to what is being sold in the bowling alley. Over 200 calories an hour isn’t too shabby for exercise either. Walking and bending to keep the game moving won’t even register as you get in the spirit of things and play to win.

Hacky sack

For those of you who are more coordinated, you may find that hacky sack provides you with both eye-foot coordination and an energetic activity. The great thing about this “exercise” – besides the 250+ calories an hour you’ll burn – is that you can work on your technique by yourself or in a group. As a result, it’s easy to play any time.

Table Tennis

Playing ping-pong is a sport that you’ve probably been acquainted with in the past, but it’s being enjoyed by more than just frat-houses these days. If you have the table, you’ll find that it’s easy to fold up and store out of sight when not in use. Plus you’ll be burning close to 300 calories an hour if you keep up your competition.  We bought a net and paddles and placed it across our dining room table (no it isn’t regulation size or exactly square) but we can play ping-pong just the same!


Indoor courts are really the best venue for this game as they provide climate control. With a good partner, you can find that this game is exciting and fast-paced so it will keep your interest. The goal is to hit a rubber ball against the wall with a racket so that it bounces back and your partner hits it as well (here is a more detailed explanation). Because of the capability of the intensity of this game, the calorie burn is just as intense – at almost 850 calories an hour.


Canoes often correspond to quiet, peaceful days on the lake. This may be true, but getting out to that quiet resting spot is going to take some effort!  Depending on how quickly you maneuver your craft across the water, you could burn between 200 and 500 calories an hour.  If you can’t find a partner to join you in your water adventure, try a kayak.  Not only can you “exercise” independently, you’ll also torch more than 300 calories an hour!

Maybe being in the boat doesn’t interest you.  Perhaps you’d rather get in the water.  Good news…you’ll burn even more calories once you take the plunge.  Both water skiing and swimming burn about 400 calories an hour.

Add in some wise food choices and healthy snacks after your games for even better results. With all of these options for burning calories, there’s bound to be something which you enjoy. So get out there and find the one that’ll work for you! Start enjoying your exercise and start feeling the relief of having those extra pounds fall away without the dread and boredom of exercise routines.

 Jacquie Hill is studying exercise science at Iowa State University. While she is learning the proper techniques for many different weight lifting and exercise routines, she is a strong proponent of “fun” weight loss.  She knows if dieters don’t enjoy the process, they won’t stick with it. When she graduates, Jacquie hopes to put her theory into practice at a local health club.

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Sandy J Duncan
Sandy Duncan is completing her Doctorate in Integrative Medicine, a health and wellness coach, Certified Neurofeedback specialist and author of Read honest reviews on current health and wellness products as well as register for FREE giveaways.