Can You Lose Weight Playing Basketball? A Complete Overview

Basketball player with duck shorts and no shirt looks to get by his defender at the park.

There are many benefits to playing basketball. It’s fun. It’s mentally stimulating. Most importantly, it’s healthy. By playing basketball, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle without all the tedious and repetitive trips to the weight rack or treadmill.

If you’re looking to lose some weight, you may want to consider adding basketball to your routine.

So, can you lose weight by playing basketball?

Basketball is a fun and physically demanding activity that burns a lot of calories, which can help you lose weight. Basketball requires participants to run, jump, change direction, and utilize hand-eye coordination. If you play basketball, you’ll quickly build up a sweat and start burning calories.

If playing basketball is your preferred way to lose weight, there are some important things you need to know, which we cover in this article.

How Many Calories Does Playing Basketball Burn?

You can burn tons of calories playing basketball! But keep in mind, the number of calories you burn depends on several factors.

These factors include how long you play, the level of intensity at which you play, playing full court or half court, and the number of players on each team. Your weight also affects how many calories you burn.

According to, you can estimate how many calories you’ll burn based on your weight and the type of game you’re playing (full-court, half-court, shooting around).

For example, here are the estimated calories burned for somebody weighing 150 lbs. for each type of game:

  • Full-court: 570 calories per hour
  • Half-court: 390 calories per hour
  • Shooting around: 270 calories per hour

You can also visit to find out how many calories you can burn in a given activity by entering your weight and the duration of the exercise. WebMD’s results are similar to the stats at

According to WebMD, somebody weighing 150 pounds will burn 544 calories per hour in a basketball game and 306 calories shooting baskets.

Why Is There Such a Difference in Calories Burned?

Well, it’s all about the intensity. In a full-court game, you’re covering more ground than you would in a half-court game or while shooting around.

In full-court games, you must run longer distances to go up and down the court, compared to going back and forth between the basket and the half-court line.

How Many Calories Do Professional Basketball Players Burn?

Professional basketball players are among the best-conditioned, most athletic people in the world. When you’re on the basketball court surrounded by nine other world-class athletes, you’re going to burn a lot of calories keeping up with them.

NBA games require so much athletic ability that professionals can burn calories at a much faster rate than most of us. According to, an NBA player burns 1200 to 1500 calories in 30 minutes of game action!

Is Basketball Good Cardio?

Basketball player in grey lays up the ball from beneath the basket at the park.

Cardio can play an important role in an effective weight loss plan. A good cardiovascular workout involves activities that increase your heart rate and with the running and jumping basketball requires, the sport is a great opportunity for cardio workouts.

To take full advantage of this opportunity, you need to be active. Don’t stand around too much!

Three important factors determine how much of a cardio workout you get by playing basketball: intensity, length of time, and type of basketball.

A High Intensity Burns More Calories

In terms of a cardio workout, you’ll get the most out of basketball by doing high-intensity actions. What are some of these actions? You do things that require quick movements.

You sprint to the other end of the court when possession changes. Offensively, you move around to get open or set screens for your teammates.

On defense, you keep up with your defensive assignment, hopefully preventing them from getting open. You’re quick to box out opponents for a good rebounding position and you jump for rebounds and blocked shots.

Playing basketball with intensity makes for a great cardio workout. Regardless of how hard you push your body, however, you have already made a healthy choice by choosing basketball as an activity.

The Amount You Play Matters

The more basketball you play, the more cardio you’ll get. The National Institute of Health advises at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three to five days per week.

You can easily achieve this by playing basketball. It won’t feel like 30 minutes, either. If you’re trying to achieve cardio goals, basketball is a fun and mentally stimulating activity.

You don’t have to limit yourself to 30 minutes though. If you’re having fun and you’re not too tired, play for an hour! You’ll burn more calories in the process.

Certain Types of Games Burn More Calories

The type of basketball you’re playing may affect the quality of your cardio workout. In a full-court game, you play on the entire floor, which means there’s more space to cover.

A full-court game will likely require more running than other types of games. That said, there is still good cardio in a half-court game or in shooting by yourself.

If you’re shooting around, just make sure you’re keeping up the intensity. Run to grab your rebound. Work on your dribbling. Run to a spot on the floor for a pull-up jump shot, or head to the basket for a layup.

No matter what type of basketball you’re playing, you can create a good cardio session.

Achieving a Caloric Deficit

Basketball player in silver dunks the ball.

To lose weight, you must have a caloric deficit. This means your calories consumed should be less than your maintenance calories (the number of calories needed per day to maintain your weight).

If you pair playing basketball with a healthy lifestyle, your chances of losing weight increase. It’ll be hard to lose weight if you’re not eating healthy or at least reasonably healthy.

Other Things to Consider When Playing Basketball

Basketball is a unique sport. It requires lots of sprinting, changing direction, jumping, and contact. With the physical demands of playing basketball, it’s easy to become tired, sore, or dehydrated.

So, here are some tips if you’re new to basketball or you haven’t played in a while:

Pace Yourself

During a single game, you’ll run up and down the court dozens of times. Don’t wear yourself out too quickly! Sprint when appropriate: a fast break is a good opportunity to sprint.

Catch your breath when you can, like when you’re waiting on your teammate to bring the ball up the court. Even LeBron James, one of the best-conditioned athletes in the world, finds ways to conserve energy during games.

If LeBron paces himself, then you should, too.

Take Breaks Routinely

Don’t push your body too hard. Take some time to let your heart rate slow down. Wait a few minutes to start a new game.

If you need to take a break during a game, let someone substitute for you.

Always Remember to Stretch

Basketball requires the use of many muscle groups and motor skills. To prevent soreness or injury, make sure you stretch adequately.

Drink Plenty of Water

It is so important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before you play basketball and continue to drink water as you take breaks. Staying hydrated will prevent muscle cramps and keep your body from overheating.

As a bonus, drinking water boosts your metabolism. That’s right – drinking water helps you burn calories faster while you play basketball. If you’re looking for an exciting weight loss option, basketball could be for you.

You can play on your own or with others. It doesn’t matter how big, small, skilled, or experienced you are. You can lose weight by playing basketball and improve your cardio – and you might even pick up some new skills!

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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