Maria Menounos
Girl Crush: Maria Menounos

queen of
the court

What’s a former beauty queen doing on the basketball court? Getting in enviable shape, that's what! Extra host and our Girl Crush for February Maria Menounos likes to have fun and score while torching mega calories. Sounds like a win-win to us. Here’s why you should be playing some hoop to get fit.

The Mayo Clinic says a 160-pound person can burn 584 calories an hour playing basketball. That equates to a couple slices of pizza, about half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s new cannoli ice cream or three bottles of beer. Suddenly, hitting the court never looked so good, right?

basketballWhere basketball got its start

The sport got going in December 1891, when Dr. James Naismith, a physical education instructor at the International Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) Training School (now known as Springfield College in Massachusetts) was trying to come up with a way to keep his gym class active on a rainy day. In 1946, the Basketball Association of America was established. It merged in 1949 with the National Basketball League to form what we know today as the National Basketball Association.

How do you play the game?

While you can dribble or work on drills to build your skills, basketball is traditionally a team sport. Typically, two teams of five players play on a marked rectangular court with a basket at each end.

A team scores a field goal, worth two points when a player shoots the ball through the basket during a regular play, when the player is touching or closer to the basket than the three-point line. But the player will snag three points if he or she is behind the three-point line. As in football, overtime can come into play if the score is tied at the end of the game. While you’re busting out all of your moves to get the ball to the basket (hopefully as poised as our “it" girl Menounos), keep in mind that you can’t move your feet without dribbling the ball or you’ll get penalized for traveling. It’s also a violation to carry the ball or to hold the ball with both hands, then resume dribbling, which is known as double dribble.

Get fit by shooting hoop

If you’re going to play the sport on a local team or with a group of friends on a regular basis, conditioning your body for running, stopping, turning, shooting and passing is vital. While being on the court is important so you can practice your aim and develop muscle memory, so are some good cardiovascular and agility exercises.

According to, basketball great Kobe Bryant says he runs on and off the court to stay in shape, and Jason Kidd says legwork — and even Pilates — helps keep him on his game. A few of the primary conditioning exercises for basketball are known as suicides, wall touches, 40 in 2, and T drills. Get with a trainer or basketball pro to design a program that’s right for you.

Maria Menounos


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