-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The best way to
celebrate "March Madness" is to get out and shoot some hoops
yourself, an expert says.
Watching the NCAA basketball tournament on television can be
fun, but actually playing the game provides you with a number of
health benefits, said Tim Howell, an assistant professor of
physical therapy and athletic training at Saint Louis
Basketball is good for your heart because it can help you
develop cardiovascular endurance and reduce your risk of heart
disease and stroke, he said in a university news release.
The game also helps develop both upper- and lower-body strength.
Having strong muscles helps your balance and reduces your risk of
falling, Howell said. You'll also lose fat. Depending on your
intensity, you can burn 700 or more calories an hour when playing
Jumping and other physical demands of basketball help develop
and improve bone health, Howell said. The stronger your bones, the
less likely they are to break.
Basketball improves hand-eye coordination and helps build
spatial awareness, which means your body knows where it is in space
and time. Why is this important? Ask a cat, Howell said. Spatial
awareness is why they always land on their feet.
Playing basketball and other sports also might help reduce
stress and give you the opportunity to socialize, Howell said.
People who are social are less likely to have depression, and also
tend to have a stronger immune system.
It is always recommended, however, that people check with their
doctor before starting any new exercise program.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a
guide to physical activity.
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