Since its inception back in 1891, the game of basketball has been enormously popular around the world. Not only is the game fun to play, but it has a bundle of physical health benefits to go along with it.

The game of basketball was created by James Naismith in one of the first physical education programs in the United States. The original intent of the game was to provide a good physical activity that his students could play indoors during the long cold New England winters. He more than succeeded in his goal and gave us one of the greatest athletic games in the world.

Whether or not he knew it at the time, the game that Naismith invented is a game that provides numerous physical health benefits. It can involve moving at a fast pace, or a slow pace or sometimes even coming to a stop. There is lots of jumping, hand and arm movement and the need for full-body coordination. All of these things combined provide an exercise program that can rival a cardio workout routine designed by a professional trainer.

My Personal Experience

I have been around the game of basketball for most of my life and as long as I can remember it has always been something that has helped me stay in good physical condition. As a young kid, we would go out and play just for fun. Unknowing to us, the game was keeping us active and in shape.

As I got older, I started to play basketball with my father. He loved the game and he would always tell me that playing basketball helped him keep physically fit. He hated lifting weights, running or doing other boring workout activities to stay fit. Basketball was fun and it kept him in shape. It is something he continued to do until recently when he turned 70 years old and had to have knee surgery.

Whether it was playing a pickup game in the park, one-on-one in our driveway or just shooting around, I learned from my father how great it was to be able to get the exercise you need by simply playing a game that you love.

This is one of the great things about basketball and one of the reasons it is so popular. It is a game that is fun to play and it also helps keep you physically fit. Just what James Naismith intended when he created the game.

Physical Benefits of Playing Basketball

Whether you play basketball on a regular basis or not, it should be clearly evident that the game has many physical health benefits. So, What are those benefits? Let’s take a look at those benefits and how the game of basketball provides them.

Cardiovascular Health

This is a big one. If cardiovascular health were the only benefit of playing basketball, it would still be well worth it. Cardiovascular health is the health of the heart and blood vessels and is important to prevent stroke, heart attack, and other heart diseases.

The variety of motions, stopping and starting, and the different pace of activities that takes place when playing basketball are very similar to circuit training which is known to be very good for cardiovascular health. Often referred to as a “cardio” workout, it gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping through your veins.

Burns Calories

Having a safe and efficient way to burn calories is a great benefit to your health. In order to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, you need to burn calories. This relates back to cardiovascular health, and it also helps prevent problems such as diabetes and other weight-related problems.

Unlike some gimmicks, drugs, or even surgeries, basketball is a very safe and natural way to burn calories. The cardio workout that basketball provides, as described above, burns calories efficiently and safely. Check out this calorie calculator if you would like to get an idea of how many calories you can burn with different basketball activities.

Provides Strength Training

Strength training is an important part of your physical health but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The real goal is to keep your muscles in good enough shape to perform day-to-day activities in a relatively easy manner. Of course, there is nothing wrong with building more muscle and more strength, if that’s what you are looking for, but as for providing basic strength training basketball can easily accomplish that.

Jumping, shooting, passing, dribbling, running, fighting for rebounds and loose balls, are all basketball activities that work the numerous muscles in your body. The more you work them, the stronger they get. If you don’t believe me, just go out and play a game of full-court basketball for about an hour. If you haven’t played in a while, you will find that the next day, you will feel like every muscle in your body is sore. Proof that basketball really does provide strength training.

Builds Bone Strength

Without proper exercise, the bones in your body will slowly begin to deteriorate. This can eventually cause you to become frail, weak, and break bones more easily. Bone strength is a very important part of your physical health.

Basketball helps build bone strength through all the things we have mentioned above. The cardio and strength training which works so many of the muscles in your body and also helps strengthen your bones. Just like your muscles, the more you use them, the stronger they get.

Boosts the Immune System

The immune system is an important part of your health because it is what helps to keep you from getting sick. It is closely related to your overall health, so the healthier you are the better your immune system will be.

Basketball enhances your immune system by improving your overall health in general. Intense basketball play also causes you to sweat which in turn rids your body of unwanted toxins and improves your immune system.

Coordination and Motor Skills

These skills affect almost everything in your daily life. Walking, sitting, getting into the car, and any other physical movement you make. If you don’t have good balance, you can easily fall and get hurt doing simple everyday tasks.

Your coordination and motor skills become fine-tuned while playing basketball. Running, pivoting, dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding and just about anything you do in basketball uses and refines these skills.

Awareness of Space and Body

This kind of goes along with coordination and motor skills, but it is the ability to create awareness of where you are at compared to other objects around you. It helps you to be able to judge distances and depth perception.

Basketball is great for spatial awareness. You must constantly judge the distance to the basket and how hard you need to shoot. You must judge the distance of the other players around you to pass or get around them. Playing basketball trains your muscles and your brain to be able to react properly based on the distance and space around you.

Stress Relief

Stress can affect our physical health in many ways. Blood pressure, heart health, and immune system are just a few things that can take a toll when we are under stress.

Playing basketball, even if you’re just out on the court shooting around can greatly reduce stress. The enjoyment of playing and the energy release is something that can really help you reduce the stress in your life.

Additional Resources

As we have seen there are numerous physical health benefits from playing basketball. Again, if you want to see some estimates of the calories burned while playing basketball take a look at this calorie calculator. You can also calculate the calories burned from other activities and compare them to basketball.

While basketball is a sport that most everyone can play, it’s not always easy to find 9 other people to play a standard 5-on-5 full-court game. No need to worry, there are plenty of other games that can be played in basketball such as 4-on-4, 3-on-3, 2-on-2 or even 1-on-1. You can play full-court or half-court. There are also other games such as 21 and HORSE. Check out this great video for some of the other games you can play.

Final Words

For the majority of people, basketball can be a great way to get the health benefits that you need, but if you are worried about your own health then definitely check with your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you. Also, always make sure that you warm up properly before you start any intense play and always stay properly hydrated while playing. So, if you are ready for a great, intense workout, get out on the court and start playing some basketball.

Do you use basketball as a way to stay in shape? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments.