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The World's Fittest Sports - What Do You Think?

This article discusses the SPORT which requires the greatest demands of fitness. There are individual athletes from a large range of sports which would be considered extremely fit, whichever way you define fitness (see info about the world's greatest athlete),though here we are looking at the sports overall fitness demand.

As fitness is not defined by just one fitness component like endurance, speed or strength, the sport demanding the highest level of overall fitness would be one that requires high ratings on a wide range of factors.

We have come up with a list of factors of success in sports, and ranked just the fitness components of these for a range of sports to create our list of the World's Fittest Sports. In a similar process used by ESPN (Most Demanding Sports), by rating each of these factors for a large range of sports, the profile of each sport can be compared to determine the sport ranked highest in terms of these fitness and sport psychology factors. See also my ranking of fittest sports using the same method as below. These sports rating figures are also being used to compare sports 'head to head', with some interesting results.

Water Polo is your Fittest Sport

The following ranking is based on your ratings of just the main trainable fitness components (aerobic, strength/power, speed, flexibility and agility) of the factors of success, with a weighting giving more leverage for aerobic power, then strength and speed, with the least effect of agility and flexibility.

waterpolo playerwater polo is one of the world's fittest sports

This table was created December 2019 - the ratings are still being made so the rankings are expected to change over time. You can add your rating too. There are over 50 sports being rated, however there may be other sports that could score as well as these if they were included.

Water polo was considered the most overall physically demanding sport based on your ratings.

Ranking Sport Overall Fitness Rating (%)
1 Water Polo 80.3
2 Rugby 7s 79.6
3 American Football 79.3
4 Ultimate (Frisbee) 79.3
5 Martial Arts 79.1
6 Boxing 79.0
7 Badminton 78.5
8 Gymnastics 78.4
9 Rugby League 78.0
10 Tennis 77.5
11 Field Hockey 77.4
12 Rugby Union 77.4
13 Surfing 76.9
14 Swimming (200m Free) 76.4
15 Fencing 76.0
16 Squash 75.8
17 Table Tennis 75.8
18 Australian Football 75.1
19 Basketball 74.9
20 Wrestling 74.9
21 Baseball 74.5
22 Track Cycling 74.1
23 Motocross 74.0
24 Rowing 73.9
25 Ice Hockey 73.5
26 Football / Soccer 73.2
27 Handball 73.1
28 Netball 73.0
29 MMA 72.9
30 Volleyball (Beach) 72.9
31 Volleyball (Indoor) 72.7
32 Paddle Sports 72.5
33 Softball 72.5
34 Sailing 72.4
35 Triathlon 72.3
36 Road Cycling 72.2
37 Orienteering 72.0
38 Lacrosse 71.9
39 Decathlon 70.9
40 Motorsports 70.2
41 Cricket 69.9
42 Equestrian 69.1
43 Long Jump 68.9
44 Diving 68.6
45 Weightlifting 68.2
46 Horse Jockey 68.1
47 Cross-Country Skiing 67.9
48 Rogaining 67.4
49 Archery 65.5
50 Golf 62.6
51 Shooting 61.5
52 Tenpin Bowling 60.4
53 Ultra Marathon 59.9
54 Lawn Bowls 54.1

Sports Ranking for each Fitness Component

The table above is based on the average ranking for all of the trainable fitness components: aerobic, strength/power, speed, flexibility and agility. We have also ranked the sports for each of these components to see what is thought to be the sport requiring the highest level of strength, speed etc. See the complete lists of factors of success sports rankings.

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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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