The armchair spectators among you have probably come to the conclusion that some Olympic sports really are more physically demanding than others — and now science has proved it.

Experts from, an online clinic, researched 28 Olympic events and discovered how many calories each event burns.

The scientists, who released their findings on the run-up to the Games in Rio, found that some activities, such as running, burn up to seven times as many calories as other more sedate sports.

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Marathon runners, unsurprisingly, top the chart, while shooters are at the bottom. Boxing followed close behind running, with a 70 kilogram athlete burning 446 to 466 calories, respectively. But more interestingly, kayaking, rowing and cycling — the so-called sitting down sports — all came in the top five.

The most surprising result is perhaps gymnastics, which burns 133 calories per 30-minute session, finishing in penultimate position behind sports like table tennis, sailing and golf.

To calculate the calorie burn total for each sport, the scientists looked at factors including a person’s weight; the number of hours they’re performing an activity for; and its Metabolic Equivalent Task (MET) value, the physiological measure expressing the energy cost of physical activities. The experts based the calorie burn figures on an individual completing five, 30-minute exercise sessions per week, for 10 different weight categories.

The boffins also have a top tip for those of us who find any excuse to avoid working out. They suggest that team sports constitute something of an unwritten commitment to exercise — and your teammates — hereas it’s easy to call off an individual gym session. So if you need the motivation to get fit, join a team.