Is Playing Basketball a Good Cardio?

Cardio exercises are a good way of keeping your heart healthy for better endurance. Doing cardio exercises has many advantages, such as regulating weight and keeping you in a good mood.

Health experts often recommend that cardio exercises be part of your regular health routine. Playing sports can be considered as one of those cardio exercises that you can do, but is playing basketball a good form of cardio exercise?

What Are The Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise?

Cardiovascular exercises are great for helping build endurance as well as strength. They are also a great way to maintain one’s weight which, in turn, helps regulate one’s blood pressure and even blood glucose levels.

Cardiovascular exercises are also extremely helpful as a mood regulator by releasing hormones such as endorphins. Endorphins help one feel energetic throughout the day too.

What Makes a Sport a Good Form of Cardio Exercise?

For any sport to be a good form of cardiovascular exercise, it should be able to at least meet these three characteristics:

  • It should be able to make much use of the large muscle groups. Most of these groups are found in the lower extremities.
  • It should be able to get the individual to move in one continuous, rhythmic movement with not many stops and starts. Recent studies show that interval training, which incorporates sudden bursts of energy in between low-intensity movements, is a better way of doing cardiovascular exercises.
  • It should be challenging to both your heart and lungs.

Is Basketball a Good Form of Exercise?

The answer to this sporting question is a resounding yes.

Despite being a team sport, basketball requires a lot of running, jumping, and explosive moments on the court that are enough for the sport to build endurance, alertness, and strength while keeping your heart rate up.

Basketball builds muscles and helps in bone development. It also helps in developing movement and coordination.

It helps lower stress and encourages socialization.

Another advantage of basketball is that it helps develop cardiovascular strength.

Is Basketball a Good Form of Cardio Exercise?

Basketball is one sport that can actually provide a good cardio workout.

In fact, it is said that playing competitively for an hour can burn up to even 747 calories.

Basketball is actually a combination of two kinds of exercises – cardio and plyometrics.

Keep in mind that basketball entails a lot of jumping, especially when trying to shoot a ball through a hoop. These movements entail a lot of powerful movements involving major muscles from the lower extremities, which is one of the characteristics of a good cardio workout.

Sudden turns and changes in movements require a lot of functioning muscles, not to mention those shots that need to be made to target the hoop. These serve as strength training during the game.

Remember too that basketball entails intense movements whenever a player starts to run from one point to the next but is easily followed by stops or sudden walks as the player tries to plan his next move. This irregular pace is similar to interval training, which is one of the more efficient ways to do cardio exercise.

Being a team sport, basketball is perfect for working up those endorphins that can keep a person’s mind active and his mood up for an entire day. This is yet another benefit that can be derived from basketball as a good form of cardio exercise.

What Are the Disadvantages of Playing Basketball?

The main disadvantage of playing basketball is that basketball can be highly taxing to the body.

There are many professional players, in fact, who end up injured in the middle of an entire basketball season.

Some of the common injuries involve the foot/ankle, hip, or thighs. ACL tears are also common to many basketball players.

Basketball is also a contact sport, so other injuries, such as concussions, can be acquired during a game, most especially during a very rough one.

A minor disadvantage with basketball is the need for teammates as well. Although basketball can be played alone, teams are needed in order to reap its full benefits as a form of cardio exercise.

A full setup will also need referees, and a whole game can be quite time-consuming. This can be quite inconvenient for those with very hectic schedules.

How Often Should You Be Playing Basketball?

Like any other cardio exercise, playing basketball around three to four times a week is enough to give your heart and lungs the workout they need.

Playing this often also lessens the chances of you developing a burnout or some form of injury in the long term.

Things To Remember When Playing Basketball

While basketball may indeed provide you with a good cardio workout, there are things to remember in order for you to prevent injury from happening.

Good Shoes and Thick Socks Matter

When playing basketball, always wear a good pair of basketball shoes and thick socks.

Both are supposed to provide extra cushions for your fit that will help lessen the impact of those jumps and runs on your lower extremities, most especially the knees.

Wearing mid or high-cut shoes also helps you maintain balance, especially when you have to make those sudden turns.

Keep Hydrated

Just like any cardio workout, it is important to keep hydrated throughout the game.

High-intensity workouts like these will make you sweat, and you need to replace lost fluids in order to prevent damage to your kidneys resulting from dehydration.

Extra Protective Gears

Basketball is a contact sport. Wear extra protection, such as mouthguards, in order to protect your teeth from injury in case you encounter any sudden moves from an opponent that may injure your face and your mouth.


Basketball is a sport that can provide you with a good cardio workout.

It involves sudden bursts of intense movements, followed by motions that tend to slow down, which are perfect for interval training – a highly recommended form of cardio exercise.

While basketball is indeed recommended to keep you active and in shape, it may not be the best workout for you.

The best workout for your body is the one that you enjoy, and it is the one that will keep you constantly motivated.

Without the proper motivation, playing basketball can get you burned out. Burning out means that you won’t be able to achieve your fitness goals in the end.

Ultimately, the best workout is the one that you will be able to do regularly.

Chris Davis

I'm Chris, the guy behind BasketballJoy. I've played basketball for 20+ years and have been a full-time coach since 2017. On this website, I share everything I know about the most beautiful sport in the world - Basketball.

Recent Posts