Cardiovascular strain and heart health are key concerns because a game of basketball requires intense cardiac output. Dashing up and down the court at irregular intervals with sudden stops and shifts in direction may produce harmful effects on the heart muscles and the way it pumps blood.
Because of the way basketball is played, extreme changes in cardiac output happens multiple times in a match. Heart fluctuations are dangerous and even life-threatening. If a player’s cardiac capacity isn’t accustomed to these heart rhythm changes, he or she may experience lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and exhaustion.
There have been instances wherein young, physically fit athletes have died from sudden, adverse cardiac events such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and cardiac arrest (heart stoppage) during a game.
The Heart’s Main Functions
The heart delivers nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to every cell in the body through a network of arteries and veins. It also removes unwanted carbon dioxide and other waste products. The other main functions of the cardiovascular system are to safeguard the body from infection and blood loss and to help the body maintain constant body temperature (thermoregulation) and fluid balance.
The Importance of Cardiovascular Fitness for Basketball Athletes
Cardiovascular fitness can be achieved through cardiorespiratory (heart and lungs) training and conditioning. Cardiorespiratory endurance is a benchmark for how effectively the heart, lungs, and muscles perform during moderate to high-intensity physical exertion. Factors such as heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output and oxygen levels are also crucial.
A well-functioning cardiovascular system is integral to a player’s efficiency on the court. Developing optimum cardiorespiratory endurance increases a basketball athlete’s cardiac output threshold. Cardiorespiratory strength optimizes the heart and lung’s oxygen intake and consumption to allow the execution of high-intensity activities for longer periods of time.
Other Advantages of Cardiovascular Fitness
Cardiovascular fitness reduces the risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some forms of cancer by facilitating healthy circulation throughout the body without placing burden on the heart; reduces asthma symptoms and lessens the severity and recurrence of attacks; regulates weight by burning fat and calories; and strengthens the immune system.
How to Build Cardiorespiratory Endurance
Cardiorespiratory conditioning is any type of rhythmic, repetitive exercise that raises the heart rate and sustains it for a specified length of time. The activity and the elevated heart rate will compel your lungs to react by taking in more air. This will cause blood vessels to dilate to supply more oxygen to the muscles in use as the body releases its natural painkillers–endorphins.
When done regularly while gradually increasing duration and intensity, cardiorespiratory endurance exercises train the heart, lungs and muscles to adapt to high-capacity cardiac output. It conditions the heart to pump blood at a steady rate during basketball games, where intervals of extreme activity, short bursts of speed and inertia frequently occur.
The Most Effective Cardiorespiratory Exercises
Types of cardiorespiratory endurance exercises include running, swimming, walking, hiking, biking, jumping rope and stair-climbing, among many others. These exercises, when combined with regular basketball drills that focus on speed-burst skills, lateral footwork, sprints that involve directional shifts and other fundamentals will immensely improve cardiovascular fitness.
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