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I’ve recently found a renewed interest in playing basketball.  Not team basketball, just simply “shooting hoops”.  I leave a basketball in my truck and when the urge strikes, usually during my lunch hour at work, I head to the court and shoot.  No special prep and no special gear.  As I’ve done this lately I’ve noticed its impact on my body and mind and it occurred to me how great an exercise it is on many levels.  Below I list my thoughts on why shooting hoops is so good for you.
The Perfect Exercise for Shoulder Mobility

To integrate the core muscles you need exercise that integrates full body movements rather than isolating specific muscles.  If you actively play the rebound off the rim you’ll need to make quick full body movements.  Especially if you set the goal of not letting the ball go out of bounds.  You can increase the intensity by trying to convert every rebound into a hoop.  This may sound ridiculously easy but if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk you’ll quickly find you are enlisting many muscles which never see any activity.
While hoops can’t offer much in terms of upper body strength resistance it’s great for the lower body.  The jump shot enlists all the muscles of the lower body in a full out coordinated effort.  This is just great leg training.  Not only does it build muscular strength but, over time, it strengthens tendons, ligaments, and joints.  I caution you to proceed slowly.  Limit the number of jump shots you take initially and slowly build up.  As your strength develops spend some time trying to jump up and touch the net or rim.  This is great exercise and fun too!
Along with the jump shot, the layup is a great leg exercise.  In the layup you dribble toward the hoop until you’re nearly underneath it and finally spring off a single leg and gently “lay” the ball in the basket.  Here you’re lifting your entire body weight with a single leg.
Lymph fluid is part of your immune system and plays an important role in filtering microbes and abnormal cells and transporting them out of your body.  Your body filters about three liters of lymph fluid per day.  The heart does not pump lymph fluid.  The lymph system moves fluid through the action of the skeletal muscles.  Shooting hoops provides a great deal of skeletal muscle pumping, but its support for lymph drainage doesn’t stop there. 
Jumping is great for lymph drainage.   I’ve seen statistics stating rebounding on a mini-trampoline can increase lymph flow 15 to 20 times.   You can match this by shooting hoops and “getting off your feet”!
Assuming you’re shooting hoops outside, it’s the perfect opportunity to absorb some natural sunlight and turn on your body’s vitamin D production factory.  Vitamin D is critical to health and is particularly important in the proper absorption of calcium.  You should bare as much skin as possible and slowly build up your tolerance without inducing sunburn.  Wearing sunscreen will block the ultraviolet rays necessary for the production of vitamin D.
Depending on how aggressively you play when you shoot hoops you can activate the cardiovascular system and induce an aerobics benefit.  This is really quite easy, even if you’re playing by yourself.  Try 8-10 jump shots in a row, running for each rebound, and see if your heart rate isn’t elevated.
I particularly love this benefit.  For most of us work involves most of the day hunched over a desk.  This is terrible for mobility of the neck, upper back, and shoulders.  We simply have no occasion to tilt the head fully backward, pull the shoulders all the way back, and raise the arms over the head.  Now think about shooting hoops.  The rim is above head level.  When we look at the rim our neck is tilted fully back.  Raising the basketball to eye level before each shot pulls the shoulders back and presses the shoulder blades together.  Finally, every shot extends the shoulders in an overhead movement.  It’s the perfect exercise for neck, upper back, and shoulder mobility.
No membership fee is required to shoot hoops.  A basketball is cheap.  Every town and city has a free court.  No special gear is required.  You can play in your street clothes if you like.
I saved this for last, but it may be the most important health benefit.  We need to incorporate “play” into our lives.  Play is an activity with no goal or objective outside of having fun.  Fun is one of the most effective tools in our battle against stress.  Numerous studies have shown the ability of fun and happiness to reduce the toxic effects of stress on our bodies. 
Shootin’ hoops is just plain fun!  Get out on the court and have some fun and reap the health benefits!
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

I’m on a mission to help you prevent and reverse chronic illness by utilizing nutrition to restore your body’s natural balance.

Contact me directly for a free 30 minute consultation.
Peter Wright, NTP, CGP

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