Believe it or not, playing basketball for just 30 minutes can help you burn a significant number of calories and, as a result, help you shed unwanted pounds fast. Plus, playing basketball is usually more enjoyable than being stuck on an exercise machine for half an hour. The number of calories you can burn playing basketball is based on your body weight and playing intensity.
Playing in a basketball game--or scrimmage--will help you burn more calories than just shooting baskets. According to Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound woman can burn about 240 calories in 30 minutes while a 155-pound woman can burn off about 298 calories in the same amount of time; women who weigh 185 pounds will burn about 355 calories playing basketball for one-half hour. Basically, the more a person weighs, the greater the calorie expenditure.
Basketball vs. Other Sports
Playing basketball might give you an edge--at least when it comes to burning calories—over playing soccer or competitive gymnasium volleyball. According to Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound woman will burn 210 calories playing soccer for 30 minutes and 120 calories playing gymnasium volleyball for the same amount of time; a 155-pound woman will respectively burn about 260 calories and 150 calories during 30 minutes of soccer and volleyball. However, if you play beach volleyball, you can burn about the same number of calories as you can playing in a basketball game, since you exert extra energy moving through sand.
Basketball vs. Running
Although playing basketball can help get you into shape quickly, increase your speed and improve your cardiovascular endurance, you can actually burn more calories with continuous running versus start-and-stop movements during basketball games. But to increase your calorie expenditure, you have to hold a fairly consistent pace during your runs. According to Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound woman will burn 300 to 330 calories in 30 minutes running at a pace of 6 to 6.7 miles per hour, and a 155-pound woman will burn 372 to 409 calories running the same pace for one-half hour.
When you play basketball regularly, aim to eat enough calories so you can maintain a healthy body weight and get plenty of energy to get you through your basketball game. According to a study published in a 2010 edition of the “Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences,” semi-professional women who play team ball sports--such as basketball--consume an average of 2,050 calories each day. Female basketball players who want to shed pounds will likely require fewer calories— about 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.