Whether you are out shooting hoops by yourself, playing a game of pick-up basketball or on an elite competitive team, basketball is a great way to get fit and stay in shape. In fact, even President Barack Obama plays the game on a daily basis as part of his fitness regimen. Below, we’ve listed a few reasons why playing the game of basketball could help you stay healthy and fit.
Samir Becic, 4 times Number 1 Fitness Trainer in the world and HFR’s Top 10 Health Benefits of Basketball:
- Burns calories: Running, jumping and quick lateral movements done in basketball provide a significant amount of aerobic exercise and can burn a great deal of calories. For each hour of competitive basketball, a 165-pound person can expect to burn around 600 calories, while a 250-pound person can burn up to 900 calories.
- Great for cardiovascular health: Basketball can help you develop cardiovascular endurance, depending on how many times play stops. Keep moving and you’ll keep your heart rate up. Building endurance can help keep your heart healthy, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke later in life.
- Develops concentration and self-discipline: Like every other sport, basketball has rules to follow, and breaking them can result in penalties not just for you, but for your team. Practicing self-discipline helps one become more competitive yet fair and clean in their game and focused in succeeding.
- Builds bone strength: Jumping and other physical demands of basketball help develop and improve bone health. The stronger your bones, the less likely they are to break. Weight-bearing physical activity causes new bone tissue to form, making bones stronger. Bones and muscles both become stronger when muscles push and tug against bones during physical activity.
- Better motor skills and coordination: Free-throw shooting and jump-shooting are particularly helpful for training hand-eye coordination. Rebounding missed shots is another skill that requires a great degree of full-body coordination. The third basic basketball skill, dribbling, requires a finer degree of coordination. When first learning basketball, dribbling trains the hand-eye coordination; once that skilled is mastered, a player will no longer look at the ball while dribbling and the skill will become a pure motor coordination task.
- Strength training: Basketball provides an excellent full-body workout and can help develop useful, lean muscle. In this physically intensive contact sport, basketball players are highly reliant on effective body positioning and the ability to maintain that position when an opponent is pushing against him. Playing good defensive basketball can develop your deltoids, traps, neck, lower back and core muscles. Strong legs aid in shooting and running, while the finer movements such as dribbling and shooting are good for strengthening your arms, wrist flexors and hand muscles.
- Improves spatial awareness: Spatial awareness is knowing where your body is in space and time. Ever wonder why a cat always lands on its feet? Body awareness. It helps keep you in balance.
- Mental development: Basketball requires a wide range of physical skills, but it is also a fast-paced mental game. Research on the mental aspects of basketball has revealed that players must develop a great deal of attention to quickly and accurately process what’s happening on the court and make effective decisions with the ball and on defense. During a fast-paced game, you must train yourself to constantly observe your teammates and opponents and evaluate what course of action to take in response to their actions. This can translate to helping you make quick decisions on the job and in other real-life situations.
- Reduces stress and boosts the immune system: Decreasing your stress will help you focus and have more energy to complete tasks. Playing basketball and other sports helps reduce stress and gives players the opportunity to socialize. People who are social are less likely to have depression, and also tend to have a stronger immune system.
- Enhances confidence: Basketball truly improves anyone’s confidence. Making good shots and being a part of a good team can increase your self-esteem and help gain more confidence. A confident person has more faith in his or her skills and can face life with a better disposition.
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