When it comes to getting exercise and keeping fit, many people enjoy going to the gym. However, the mundane repetitive exercises that you do day in, day out can often bore a lot of people. Then they end up paying for a gym membership that they never even use. However, gyms are not the only way to get a good workout, playing team sports can also have excellent health benefits.
One team-based sport in particular that can offer excellent health benefits is basketball. We’re not saying you have to be good enough to be picked up by NBA teams, but rather than partaking in gym activities, basketball can be equally as good for you. It has physical, mental and social benefits that can help improve both your health and wellbeing.
But what are the magnificent benefits you can get from playing basketball? Well, let us take a look at how playing basketball can impact you physically, mentally and socially, in every aspect of your life, from athletically helping you, personally helping you and professionally helping you.
There are three key areas that basketball is great for physically; agility, strength and stamina. Playing basketball means you have to move quickly; at a moment’s notice, you may have to change direction, pass a ball, or make a shot when an opening comes up.
All of these movements make for a high-intensity workout that causes short-duration muscle contractions. This will help to improve muscle endurance and build lower and upper body strength, as well as helping to strengthen your core and back muscles too. Pretty much a full-body workout.
As well as improving strength, the high-intensity workout is also excellent for cardio, improving your stamina and energy levels. Improving stamina like this is great in helping to improve your heart health and your fitness. Actually a piece of research looking at the benefits of playing basketball from 2019 revealed that the sport increases your resting heart rate and can improve your breathing rate too. Thus reducing risk of illnesses such as heart disease.
Basketball is also great for improving your hand-eye and foot coordination, learning to bounce the ball as you move, navigating opponents and moving quickly around the court. This can also help with your balance, another way of strengthening your core muscles. The more you jump to make shots, run and stop to pivot and change direction, the more you’ll maintain a strong body that is fit and healthy.
As well as being a game where you have to move quickly, basketball is also a game where you have to think quickly. Looking for the movement of your teammates to make passes, and looking for openings to make a shot and score some points. Your mind has to be alert at all times.
But as well as keeping your mind sharp, it has other great benefits too. For one, team sports like basketball are great for lowering stress. They do this by helping your body to release endorphins, a hormone in your body that gives you positive feelings that help in boosting your mood and make you feel more relaxed. It can also help reduce pain, which is why you sometimes see professional athletes not realizing they’re injured until after a game, because they can take a knock and not realize the pain.
Another way it can improve your mental health is by improving your self-confidence. It does this by challenging you to find your voice in a team sport, whether that be shouting out to teammates to pass you the ball, or calling for players to make a run so you can pass it to them. This also challenges you by putting your mind to the test to navigate new situations as every game of basketball can be a different experience to the last.
You’ll find that it also helps you to encourage others, motivate them and support them, and likewise, they to you. Much more beneficial than exercising by yourself in a gym because you have others pushing you and looking out for you, rather than having to do everything by yourself. This can then be taken with you off the court and used in your personal life to challenge yourself in other areas and grow as an individual.
Whilst a social aspect may not necessarily be seen as a health benefit, it most certainly is. It helps you form new friendships and bonds, and can instil the importance of team spirit in you. That’s because whilst you may know of a lot of professional basketball players who are standout stars like LeBron James, at the end of the day, they’d never be successful without a solid team behind them.
Basketball helps to build a sense of community and teamwork, bringing people together from all different walks of life. Especially at a local level. You could have a grocery store worker playing alongside a doctor, or a janitor playing on the same side as a lawyer. Status doesn’t come into it, and so you can learn new things about yourself and others. Supporting each other on the court at first, and as relationships grow, off the field too.
As mentioned above as well when talking about self-confidence and the other mental benefits, it can build your communication skills. Not just in terms of learning to call plays and chatting to teammates, but it can also help you learn new ways to communicate with others, both verbally and non-verbally. It may be that you develop new secret handshakes to greet friends, or learn how to use signals to call certain plays.
It also helps you listen to others as well, which is a large part of communication. This can make you a better partner, and player. And if taken into other areas of your life, it can benefit you greatly in all aspects; athletically, personally and professionally.