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9 Health Benefits of Playing Basketball You Probably Didn’t Know

No, it won’t make you tall.


Photo by Nick Jio on Unsplash

If you love watching or playing basketball, you’re probably one of an estimated 450 million fans and players of basketball around the world, according to The International Basketball Federation (FIBA).


Basketball is fun and enjoyed by people of all ages. When you play basketball, you’re moving quickly and keeping your heart pumping while using all your muscle groups — the perfect combination for fitness. You’re also improving your hand-eye coordination, endurance, discipline, and more.


And while playing basketball might not make you grow taller (as legend has it), it has incredible physical, mental, and emotional health benefits backed up by science. Basketball can transform your body and mind in ways you never knew.


Here are just nine benefits to consider the next time you decide on an exercise program for a lean, strong, heart-healthy, and fit body…

 

Physical Benefits


1. Improves heart health and reduces the risk of heart disease

Playing basketball prevents and lowers the risk of coronary disease. According to a recent comprehensive review of basketball effects by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a basketball exercise program conducted just three times per week for eight weeks decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure and significantly reduced waist circumference in young men.


2. Strengthens bone structure and reduces the risk of osteoporosis

Basketball exercise significantly increases bone density after just 16 weeks, especially among women, compared to other sports. According to the most comprehensive study on the benefits of basketball (Randers and coworkers, 2018), playing street basketball three times a week for three months is all you need to improve bone mineral density significantly, decrease mean arterial pressure, and lower body fat in untrained men!

3. Incinerates body fat

Regular basketball will increase your lean body mass and lower your body fat percentage. According to WebMD, basketball helps burn up to 700 calories per hour! It will enable you to drop excess weight — reducing your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer! It also improves sexual health and sleep quality.

4. Improves balance and coordination

Basketball can improve your sense of balance and coordination. According to Harvard Health, poor balance leads to increased falls, and it’s a gradual process linked with growing older. You become weaker, inflexible, and have slower reflexes. But this can be avoided with basketball, as you need to be watching, holding, dribbling, jumping, pivoting, or passing the ball throughout the game.

5. Builds muscle and enhances endurance

Playing basketball will increase your upper and lower body strength by building muscle. It will also strengthen your muscular endurance and improve your agility and stamina. You’re getting a full-body workout every time you play basketball. All the shooting, dribbling, jumping, and running will develop muscles throughout your body, especially arms, legs, hand muscles, wrist flexors, core muscles, deltoids, and back… to name a few.

 

Mental and Emotional Benefits

6. Lowers stress

Regular exercise will help you relax and reduce the negative effects of stress and lower blood pressure and body-wide inflammation.

7. Improves mood and boosts the immune system

Playing basketball releases endorphins (your happiness hormones), which will improve your mood, fight depression, and will also enhance your immune system, reduce anxiety, boost your confidence… and is fun!

8. Promotes faster decision-making skills and concentration

Basketball can help you “think on your feet” with extreme focus, as you often have to make split-second decisions with very little time on hand. This will keep your mind focused and alert and help in every aspect of your life.

9. Develops self-confidence and helps you become a team player

When you play basketball, you’re part of a team. You motivate and support each other. You make friends. You win together and lose together. You grow together. This boosts self-confidence and extends to every area of your life.

 

The Takeaway

If you haven’t tried basketball to improve your heart health, increase bone density, lose weight, build muscle, improve mood… and so much more… it’s time you give it a try.

Playing basketball is an excellent way to get and stay fit while having fun. If you start playing basketball today, you can expect to see significant results in all the above areas after just three months.


“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” — Michael Jordan