For many people, playing basketball is a fun and effective form of exercise. While other vigorous aerobic activities offer some of the same benefits, the additional advantages basketball offers makes it an enjoyable and even important part of their lifestyles. If you’ve never played basketball before, consider joining a recreational team or inviting a few friends out to a public park for a quick game.
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Basketball develops physical fitness, as many sports do. However, the intense, fast-paced action of a typical basketball game simultaneously develops speed, hand-eye coordination and cardiovascular endurance in a way that sports such as baseball and softball might not. Moving quickly back and forth across the court develops lower-body fitness, while shooting, defending and passing develop upper-body fitness.
Playing basketball is an effective way to control your weight. A person who weighs 170 lbs. burns 617 calories playing a basketball game for an hour, according to the American Council on Exercise. Even if you don’t participate in a full-court basketball game, you still can burn significant calories playing basketball. For example, a 170-lb. person who practices shooting the ball for an hour burns 347 calories.
Playing basketball can provide stress relief. If you play a casual game with others, the camaraderie and competition will be a welcome distraction from your daily stresses. Other sports also might relax you, but unwinding with basketball doesn’t require you to be a top athlete or collect a large group of people to play. Just taking practice shots by yourself at a local court gives you something constructive to focus on that has nothing to do with your hectic life.
Culturally, basketball is an important sport in the United States. For youths, playing basketball is a healthy way to imitate their athletic heroes. For older individuals, playing basketball offers a way to engage in fun competition while getting regular, vigorous exercise. Basketball also provides constant social interaction, which benefits young and old players alike. Other sports, such as baseball, softball and soccer, often force players to maintain distant positions for long periods.