Can You Lose Weight by Playing Basketball?

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Basketball may not be the most efficient weight-loss tool, but it can be very effective. Those who have a distaste for activities as austere and demanding as running may nevertheless find basketball useful because it combines fun and friendly competition with calorie-burning capability. Edit your diet and invest enough time and effort, and basketball can help you shed fat.

Creating a Calorie Deficit

If you're trying to lose weight, one of your motivations for exercising may be to burn more calories than you consume. This is known as a calorie deficit, according to Michigan State University. Diet is also an important part of weight loss because it can be difficult to create a calorie deficit if you consume too many calories. The quality of the calories matters too. You should eat a healthy diet filled with whole foods that are rich in fiber to nourish your body and suppress hunger.

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Calories Burned Playing Basketball

According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person can burn around 288 calories in 30 minutes of playing basketball. However, a person with a higher body weight may expend more energy: A 185-pound individual can burn about 336 calories in 30 minutes of basketball.

Calorie-Expenditure Comparisons

Most sports, including basketball, are start and stop in nature. They may require considerable effort to play, but, in general, they may not burn as many calories as a continuous exercise such as vigorous running or cycling. For instance, per Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person running 7.5 mph can burn 450 calories in 30 minutes, and a 155-pound person bicycling at 16 to 19 mph can burn about 432 calories in half an hour.

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Playing Basketball for Weight Loss

Contrary to what you may have heard, a 3,500-calorie deficit won't necessarily lead to a 1-pound body fat loss for everyone, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). But the AICR says you can use an interactive tool, such as the one provided by the National Institutes of Health, to determine the approximate number of calories you should eat daily to lose a specified amount of weight over a specified period of time, depending on such variables as your weight, height, age, weight-loss goals and activity level.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans​, 2nd Edition, recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, but this is merely a baseline. You should feel free to play basketball for several hours a week if you enjoy it and can spare the time. However, basketball might work better as a supplement rather than the cornerstone of a weight-loss program. It can be a way to keep your weight-loss efforts entertaining, but it may not be as efficient at burning calories as simply running.

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