Hockey Fitness: How Does It Compare?

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In terms of overall fitness, how does hockey stack up against other physically demanding sports?

As hockey players, we know that ice hockey is a dynamic, exciting sport. It is also physically demanding. Dr. Renda Hawwa points out in a feature on ice hockey that the sport “requires a combination of aerobic and anaerobic fitness,” and players can burn anywhere from 400 to 800 calories in an hour. It’s got a metabolic equivalent of 10.

That doesn’t mean 60 minutes of nonstop action, though. Often players are active for approximately 25% of the time. But in that 25%, the action is extremely intense, resulting in a large calorie burn.

Ice hockey players like to think that their sport is the most demanding on the planet, providing undisputed hockey fitness. But in reality, how does it stack up against other physically demanding sports.

Let’s have a look a how hockey fitness measures up against some other high-intensity sports:

Football

Like ice hockey, there is a lot of high-intensity action in football. In between these periods of intense action though, there are lulls, like in-game huddles and timeouts. A Captain Calculator estimation on the amount of calories burned while playing football shows that a 200 lb. player burns upwards of 700 calories in an hour. That’s largely because of football’s metabolic equivalent of 8, which is close to ice hockey’s 10. The metabolic equivalent is the “measurement of the energy cost of a specific physical activity for a specific period of time.”

Soccer

In terms of calories burned, soccer is very similar to ice hockey fitness. Soccer also has a metabolic equivalent of 10, and that translates to over 900 calories burned an hour for a 200 lb. player. However, the level of physicality is comparatively less in soccer, which shows how much the sport places a huge demand on a player’s cardio fitness.

Basketball

The calorie burn in basketball is also comparable to ice hockey fitness. Playing a competitive game has a metabolic equivalent of 8. This means that a 200 lb. player will burn over 700 calories in 60 minutes. That’s a considerable amount; however, the action in a basketball game is far more sustained. Unlike ice hockey players, basketball players tend to be in constant motion, but they cover significantly less ground. Basketball players also don’t experience the same physicality as do ice hockey and football players.

While it is interesting for the casual reader to see how many calories an athlete burns playing a certain sport, this data has become crucial for sports teams at all levels. This article by Coral on how technology is changing sport details how tracking technologies are used by teams to compile “exhaustive amounts of data to help them prepare on a game-by-game basis.”

For example, Kyle Turris, center for the Ottawa Senators, consumes between 5,500-6,000 calories every day due to the energy he expends. His optimal calorie consumption would have been tracked using the latest technology, which allows him to maintain his fitness levels during games. Even if you’re not a professional NHL player it still pays to track your calorie expenditure and intake. This technology can also be used during the off-season to ensure that fitness levels and nutrition habits don’t drop too much. The off-season tips in this article note how maintaining fitness is important when not playing in order to ensure a player is prepared for the next season.

So, you might be asking, “How will this calorie comparison thing benefit me as an ice hockey player?” In the article, Chris Ramirez admits to being slow on the ice, which forces her to watch her calories. But even the fastest players need to watch their calories, too. Doing so is the key to staying in optimal shape.

This article illustrates how ice hockey impacts your overall fitness, while the comparisons in how playing football, soccer, and basketball offer a calorie burn comparable to playing hockey. With that in mind, it might be a good time to give these three other sports a shot (especially soccer and basketball, which is easy enough to play with few friends). Not only will you switch up your training, but you will also burn plenty of calories while off the ice!

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