Does Playing Badminton Help Reduce Weight?

In this day and age, everybody is looking to lose some weight. It could be because of health reasons, looks, or something else! Whatever the reason, you might as well have fun while doing it. In this post, we’ll discuss why and how badminton helps reduce weight and more.

Badminton helps reduce weight by increasing your heart rate and metabolism and by working both your aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems. Playing badminton at a medium intensity will burn roughly 450 calories per hour and playing 3 hours a week will help you reduce up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) per year if you only consume back half the calories that you burn in addition to your normal diet. Moreover, badminton training has shown to help reduce body fat percentage. According to a study that was supported by the Badminton World Federation, students who participated in an 8 week badminton training program reduced their body fat percentage by 0.9% while the group of students in the regular physical education (PE) badminton program did not see any significant change in body fat percentage.

Why Does Playing Badminton Help Reduce Weight?

Badminton helps reduce weight because it helps burn calories quickly, which is the result of 2 main reasons:

  1. High Intensity and Increased Heart Rate
  2. High Metabolic Work Rate

High Intensity and Increased Heart Rate

Badminton is one of the most intense sports in the world as it is the fastest racket sport and raises your heart rate quickly due to many short but rapid movements. To get a feel of how fast and intense badminton is, take a look at the table below that compares the top speeds of different sports.

SportTop Speed in Tournament Play
Table Tennis33.5 mph (54 kph)
Volleyball73.9 mph (119 kph)
Ice Hockey110.3 mph (178 kph)
Baseball123.9 mph (199 kph)
Soccer131.1 mph (211 kph)
Tennis163.4 mph (263 kph)
Squash176.0 mph (283 kph)
Golf211.0 mph (340 kph)
Badminton264.7 mph (426 kph)
Sports and their respective fastest hits in tournament play

Badminton’s top speed is the fastest by far!

Not only is badminton the fastest racket sport in the world, it also gets your heart pumping really quickly. The ideal heart rate for training is 75-85% of the maximum expected heart rate. According to the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and a study from the University of Victoria on A Comparison of Heart Rate Responses in Racquet Games, recreational badminton can, on average, raise players’ heart rates to 80-85% of their maximum heart rate, which is significantly higher than the 68-70% of tennis. This means it is easier for players to reach higher heart rates with badminton than with tennis. The study also shows that for every 30 minutes of game play, the time spent playing tennis is about 5 minutes, while the time spent playing for badminton is about 10 minutes – further illustrating the intensity difference between the sports.

Intensity% of Maximum Expected Heart Rate
LowBelow 50%
Medium50-70%
High70-85%
Intensity based off of heart rate

High Metabolic Work Rate

Badminton helps burn calories because of its high metabolic work rate. Before I get into the details for badminton specifically, let’s discuss what I mean by metabolic work rate.

The human body burns calories naturally without you needing to do anything. These are burned from just your normal body functions that are needed to keep you alive. The rate at which your body burns calories to simply stay alive is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). When you exercise, you burn calories relative to your basal metabolic rate based off the metabolic work rate of the exercise, also called a metabolic equivalent of task (MET). For example, walking has a MET of 3, meaning that you will burn 3 times as many calories while walking than while doing nothing – in other words, you will burn 3 times your BMR from walking.

To calculate your daily BMR, you can use an online calculator here. Your BMR is dependent on your sex, height, weight, and age. Men tend to have a higher BMR than women due to lower fat percentage as muscle burns more calories than fat does. Taller and heavier people also have higher BMR because they have more mass and therefore more muscle/fat that burns calories. Lastly, BMR slows down as people get older because metabolic processes on the cellular level slow down and lose efficiency with age.

Please note that your BMR is NOT the amount of calories you need to eat in a day to stay at the same weight since there are other activities you do during the day that also burn calories. To get an estimate of your daily caloric needs, use the online calculator here.

Now let’s talk about badminton’s metabolic work rate. Badminton has a MET of 3 to 4 for light intensity, 5 to 7 for medium intensity, and 8 to 9 for high intensity play. Take a look at the table below for some comparisons between walking, badminton, and tennis MET values. And take a look at this study to view an extensive list of activities and their corresponding estimated MET values.

ActivityMET
Walking (Light)3
Walking (Medium)4
Walking (High)5
Tennis (Light)4 – 5
Tennis (Medium)5 – 7
Tennis (High)8 – 10
Badminton (Light)3 – 4
Badminton (Medium)5 – 7
Badminton (High)8 – 9

As you can see in the above table, badminton can help burn quite a few calories – especially in the medium to high intensity levels. By playing badminton, you’re able to burn calories at a much faster pace than what you would have burned from just your BMR. Really, any exercise will help you burn calories at a higher rate, but I recommend badminton because it has comparable MET values to most other sports’ MET values, is easy to play (but difficult to master), and is just so much more fun!

How Long Do I Have to Play Badminton to See Weight Reduction Results?

How long it takes for you to see weight reduction results from playing badminton depends on 3 major factors:

  1. How many hours you play badminton per week
  2. The intensity of the gameplay
  3. How much you eat

The more hours you play per week, the higher the intensity, and the less you eat – the faster the results. However, this is by no means a suggestion to play continuously and vigorously while starving yourself. Rather, use the tables below to give yourself the correct expectations as to what your progress should look like depending on how your schedule is and make sure to stay consistent.

In the following tables, I show the number of weeks it will take to lose a pound and the number of pounds you would lose in a month depending on the number of hours and intensity of badminton play. We’ll also put the same charts in kilograms as well.

Before looking at the tables, be aware of the 3 assumptions I took to make them:

  1. You will eat back only half the calories that you burn during a session. This is recommended by the registered dietician, Dawn Jackson Blatner, in Shape’s article on How to Control Your Ravenous Hunger After a Tough Workout and is a very important step to lose weight. Eating back all the calories you burn will effectively keep you at the same weight.
  2. 3500 calories = 1 pound, 7700 calories = 1 kg. There are articles out there that suggest that the number of calories to lose 1 pound may be up to 7000 calories instead of 3500 because losing weight is dynamic and dependent on many factors – meaning that there isn’t a single set rule to the number of calories you need to burn to lose 1 pound. However, I assume the above rules to keep it simple and easy to calculate, but keep in mind that it is a rough estimate.
  3. Low Intensity = 225 calories/hour, Medium Intensity = 450 calories/hour, High Intensity = 675 calories/hour. This can differ depending on your basal metabolic rate (BMR), as discussed above. If you want to find out how many calories you will burn in an hour, calculate your daily BMR here. Get your hourly BMR by dividing it by 24 . Then multiply it by 3 or 4 for low intensity, 5 to 7 for medium intensity, and 8 or 9 for high intensity – which are the corresponding MET values for badminton as discussed in the previous section.

Low Intensity

Number of Weeks to Lose a Pound/Kilogram in Low Intensity Play
Number of Pounds/Kilograms Lost in a Year on Low Intensity Play

Medium Intensity

Number of Weeks to Lose a Pound/Kilogram in Medium Intensity Play
Number of Pounds/Kilograms Lost in a Year on Medium Intensity Play

High Intensity

Number of Weeks to Lose a Pound/Kilogram in High Intensity Play
Number of Pounds/Kilograms Lost in a Year on High Intensity Play

How Does Playing Badminton Help Reduce Weight?

As discussed in the first section, badminton helps burn calories at a high rate by increasing your metabolic work rate during your session. In this section, we’ll go over how that is done and also take a look at what muscle groups are worked in badminton.

Engage the Aerobic and Anaerobic Metabolic Systems To Lose Weight and Burn Fat

Badminton helps reduce weight by working both your aerobic (meaning “with oxygen”) and anaerobic (meaning “without oxygen”) metabolic systems, making badminton both an aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercises, also known as cardio, require oxygen to burn carbohydrates and fat for energy and are light to moderate in intensity. When doing aerobic exercises, you will burn a higher percentage from fat than from carbohydrates and your heart rate will be around 40-80% of your maximum heart rate. Benefits of aerobic exercises include losing weight, increasing stamina, strengthening your heart, and even living longer according to Mayoclinic’s post on aerobic exercises.

Anaerobic exercises, on the other hand, do not use oxygen to burn carbohydrates for energy (and not fat) and are high in intensity. What happens during anaerobic exercises is that your oxygen supply is completely consumed because your body’s demand for oxygen is too high. Since your body no longer has enough oxygen, it can only burn glucose for energy and not fat. While fat isn’t burned during the exercise, your body will replenish the burned glucose afterwards by burning fat.

Your anaerobic system is used when your heart rate is 80-90% of your maximum heart rate and is used for explosive movements. The benefits of anaerobic exercises include strengthening bones, burning fat, building muscle, and maintaining muscle mass according to Piedmont Healthcare’s article on The Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise.

Badminton is approximately 60-70% aerobic and 30-40% anaerobic according to The Science of Badminton: Game Characteristics, Anthropometry, Physiology, Visual Fitness and Biomechanics. This makes sense since most badminton shots are of medium to low intensity, such as clears, drops, lifts, and drives (if you’re unfamiliar with the basic badminton shots – or if you want to learn about some more advanced shots – I suggest reading our post What Type of Shots are in Badminton? (With 19 Examples)). Moreover, periods between rallies use your aerobic system rather than your anaerobic system since players use this time for rest. On the flip side, badminton has short bursts of very high intensity moments that use your anaerobic system. Movements and shots such as jumping, diving, and smashing require sudden and high spikes of energy, therefore working your anaerobic system.

By working both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, badminton gets the best of both worlds, making it a great sport to play if you want to lose weight, burn fat, and strengthen your heart.

Build Muscle To Burn Calories Faster

While badminton is great at burning fat and carbohydrates by working both your aerobic and anaerobic systems, it can also help you build muscle. Each pound of muscle burns 6-7 calories a day while each pound of fat burns 2-3 calories a day – a pretty significant difference! Therefore, building more muscle can definitely help with burning more calories and losing more weight. Let’s take a look at which muscles badminton works the most.

The muscles used in badminton include your calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, forearm, shoulder, and core. Other muscles like your triceps and biceps are also worked by badminton but to a lesser extent.

Where badminton really shines in working and toning is the lower body – namely your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. This is because fast and fluid movement is so critical in badminton. Having strong legs to shuffle, lunge, and jump around the court is essential and even fundamental (except in the wheelchair events of para-badminton) to becoming a good badminton player. By playing badminton, you will build lower body muscles quickly and strengthen your legs to stabilize yourself through repeated footwork practice.

While badminton provides the best workout for your lower body muscles, it also helps work out other areas as well – including your forearm, shoulder, and core. These areas are worked on depending on the type of shot or movement you are performing. Your forearm is flexed the most during fast flat drive exchanges while your shoulder is used heavily in big motions such as when performing a smash. Your core, on the other hand, is almost constantly engaged to help you balance and stabilize as there are lots of dynamic movement in badminton.

As we can see, badminton provides quite a full body workout! It includes all of the major lower body muscles and a good portion of the upper body. You can rest assured that you will, in fact, be building muscles while having fun playing badminton. Be aware though, that badminton does favor one side of your body (your dominant side) over your other side, so make sure to do some other exercises to balance out your other side!

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