How Playing Basketball Can Help You Keep Fit and Stay Healthy

Saturday October 2, 2021
Originally published on August 25, 2021

Stock image
Stock image  (Source:Getty Images)

The key to living a healthy lifestyle is a good balance of diet and exercise. Doing one alone may work short-term, but if you want to keep the weight off, you'll have to do both. Otherwise you'll just continue to put back on the weight you worked so hard to shake off. One way of getting some exercise into your life is picking up a team sport.

Team sports are great because not only do they provide you with a chance to increase your heart rate and burn calories but they're great socially, too. You get to meet up with friends and family, have fun, and whilst some may think that's where the extra benefits end, they are actually great for improving mental health.

One of the best sports out there is basketball. And you don't have to be like a pro playing in the NBA, though wouldn't it be great to get paid like some of the top NBA picks? No, you can just play as an amateur or for fun if you're not even that good at it, because basketball is a great sport that works your entire body.

Here's just a few ways in which basketball can help you keep fit and stay healthy...

Getting Fit Physically

Playing basketball is great for three key areas of working on getting fit: agility, strength and stamina. The game forces you to move quickly, think quickly, stretch and hold your ground. Combine all of these movements and techniques you'll go through and you have a perfect full-body, high-intensity workout.

The short bursts of running for example cause short-duration muscle contractions. This is great for helping to improve muscle endurance and build lower and upper body strength. But the benefits don't stop there because these movements will also help you to strengthen your core and back muscles too.

Another one of the main benefits of playing basketball is the cardio workout you will do, which will lead to improving your stamina and energy levels. This will help you burn off calories quicker, and is also great for things like reducing the risk of heart disease and other illnesses. And cardio is the best form of exercise to do if you're looking to shake off some of those extra lockdown pounds you put on.

Help Improve Your Mental Health

As mentioned above, basketball isn't all about physical fitness. It's great for mental health, too. Both in terms of things like improving your hand-eye and foot coordination as you bounce the ball around the court dribbling past opponents and also in combating things like low mood and stress.

Basketball, as with many other team sports, helps your body to release endorphins. These are hormones in your body that give you that feel-good feeling that help in boosting your mood and help anxiety and worries fade away. You do have to be a little careful though, as some of these hormones, such as adrenaline also have a pain management capability too. So you could be running around with an injury without even realising because of the rush you have going through your body.

So it's important to listen to your body, and if you feel a tweak here or there, maybe a touch of tightness in a muscle, then ease up. Get it checked out and take your doctor's advice about resting up. Because if you don't you'll only be doing more damage, and the time it will take for you to get back out on the court enjoying yourself and keeping fit will only keep getting longer.

What you will find by listening to your body, and letting it heal is you will feel better. Whereas if you keep punishing your body, those positive thoughts that tell you to be happy with your body image, will start to be taken over again by the negative ones. It can be tough, but if you remember how good it feels to play basketball when you're fit, use that as your motivation to get better and back on the court the right way.

So there you have it, just a few ways in which playing basketball can help you keep fit and stay healthy, both physically and mentally. The best thing about it too is that you can play it with as many or as few people as you like, even by yourself. You can practice drills; you can play a little 1-on-1; you can have a full size game. Either way, there are ways to play the game for everyone.

And once you find what is right for you, and you do this alongside a healthy balanced diet, you'll reap the benefits of it. Then you'll be wondering why you weren't playing basketball all this time already. Just make sure that you take care on the court, and warm up before you play, as this will help you reduce your risk of injuries, and then you can focus on having fun and staying healthy.