There are a lot of upsides to playing basketball. Not only is it fun as all get-out to play, but it’s also a great way to get some exercise either all by yourself or with just your social bubble, or a great way to meet new people playing pickup games at the park or gym.
So, let’s dive a bit deeper into a few of basketball’s health benefits, starting with the very few cons.
Con: Basketball is High-Impact
If you have bad joints, an intense game of basketball can temporarily exacerbate inflammation. There is a lot of impact from jumping and lots of joint torque from fast stops and cutting direction changes.
This doesn’t mean that with bad ankles and knees or with an aging body, we can’t enjoy the game. It just means we have got to pay a bit more attention to the level of competition we get into. If you see a group of guys going all out in the gym, maybe that’s the game you want to jump in on, but not the game you should jump in on.
Pro: Basketball Builds Balance and Coordination
It may seem obvious as most sports build balance and coordination to some degree. But basketball has a particular blend of hand-eye coordination and footwork that will help you develop new neural pathways to allow for advanced motor functions. So, it can actually help with cognitive function.
We already know that exercise and increased blood flow to the brain helps with our overall brain health. But the complex coordination it takes for effective ball handling exercises your brain almost as much as your body. So, if you’re family has a history of cognitive decline as you get older, add dribbling drills to your regimen of sudoku and crossword puzzles.
Basketball Can Boost Your Immune System
Just like with brain health, increased blood flow significantly impacts your immune system. Our local and systemic immune systems are reliant on the Phyto-nutrients and essential vitamins get to eat, and nutritional compounds that our bodies synthesize getting to cells all around our bodies. How do they get there? On the nutrient superhighway, our blood. Just look at guys like Lebron James, who are entering their late thirties and are still in top condition, and rarely get sick. He’s still in such peak form that the Lakers are on their way to another NBA Finals against the Heat.
Pro: Basketball Burns Calories Effectively
Depending on your weight and level of intensity, basketball can burn between 630-750 calories per hour. The average person burns between 575 and 775 calories per hour while playing basketball games. If you are just shooting around and retrieving your ball, you still burn between 325-450 calories per hour.
To put this into perspective, the average person burns between 450-750 calories per hour while cycling. Jogging burns around 400 calories per hour, and running burns 550 calories an hour and up. So, while doing something that is arguably much more entertaining than running down the road or cycling down the road, you burn an equivalent amount of calories just shooting around and playing a couple of pickup games.
Pro: Basketball will help You Build Muscle
If you are out burning calories but running and jumping and cutting with explosive power, you are going to build muscles in your lower body. Even just standing squatted down with your hands up while guarding an opponent will build your glutes, legs, and even core muscles around your center.
Pushing off opponents to create distance while on defense and of course, dribbling through the ball will build muscles throughout your arms, hands, wrists, forearms, biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Last but not least, wearing the right clothing is a factor to keep an eye on. Popular brands compete to offer the best quality materials and comfort to play these sports. This guide on Under Armour vs. Nike will come in handy to help you out in deciding which one will serve you the most.
So, basketball has a lot of health benefits. You can use it to help build muscles and burn calories to manage your weight and live a happier healthier lifestyle. By default, it will build coordination and move your blood, which helps with cognitive and immune health. So, if you’re interested after reading this, grab your ball and head to the park. You don’t need anything to get started, just a ball and a hoop. Go dribble and shoot around, and experience how good it feels for yourself.