Basketball provides a great full-body workout. But there are steps you should take to reduce your risk of knee, ankle and foot injuries, an orthopedic specialist says. In 2016, more than 60,500 people were treated for basketball-related foot injuries in U.S. emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics. More than 355,000 sought help for basketball-related ankle injuries, and more than 186,000 people suffered basketball-related knee juries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Foot and ankle injuries are the most common injuries in basketball,” said Dr. Matthew Matava, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Washington University in St. Louis. He’s also an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery spokesperson. “Non-contact twisting injuries to the knee and ankle while racing for the ball, coming down from a rebound, or defending an opposing player can lead to knee ligament and cartilage tears and sprained ankles,” Matava said in an academy news release. Simply wearing shoes designed for basketball can lower some of these risks, he noted. “Proper shoes with ankle support and good traction for basketball court surfaces are essential,” he added. Matava also shared these other injury-prevention tips: Maintain a balanced fitness program during the off-season. Always warm up and stretch before a game with activities such as jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Learn and follow proper technique.…  read on >

If you find that you’re more motivated by working out under the guidance of a fitness instructor and like the idea of varying your workouts, taking classes is a great choice. With today’s wide variety of gym offerings, use these tips to decide on the best options for you. You’re likely to need a mix of classes to develop all of the key areas of fitness: strength training, cardio, flexibility and even mind-body for stress relief and emotional well-being. Put together a weekly schedule that covers all of these. For cardio work, spinning, stepping and dance classes are high-energy options that will keep you engaged as you break a sweat. For strength-training, you have many choices. Depending on your comfort level, you might like gentle resistance-bands or popular kettle-bell weight workouts. Pilates is another option that focuses on developing core muscles with strength and toning benefits. Be sure that all your muscle groups are worked over the course of the classes you take. Don’t forget classes that work on flexibility and balance. Two examples are yoga and tai chi, which have the added benefit of easing stress. Shop around before you sign up for your membership to see whether you’d rather go to a specialized exercise studio or you’d prefer a wide array of more exotic offerings that only a large gym can provide. You…  read on >

Ditching the car and biking or walking to work just might cut your risk of developing heart disease and even dying from it. So says a new British study that finds a person’s risk of heart disease or stroke falls 11 percent and their risk of dying from these diseases falls by 30 percent, just by exercising on their way to work. “Walking, cycling and even using public transport are all more physically active than using the car, so switching to one of these modes of transport can help you be more active and healthy,” said researcher Oliver Mytton. He’s a clinical lecturer in public health at the University of Cambridge. But Mytton cautioned that this study didn’t prove that a physically active commute will lower your risk of heart disease or stroke, only that there seems to be a connection. “This was an observational study, so we can’t say definitively that car use causes harm,” he said. To calculate the effect of walking or biking to work, Mytton and his colleagues collected data on nearly 359,000 people who took part in the U.K. Biobank, which is designed to track the health of adults in urban areas of Great Britain. Between 2006 and 2010, participants were followed an average of seven years, and about two-thirds of the commuters used their cars exclusively to get to…  read on >

As if their work wasn’t already tough enough, new research suggests that men in physically taxing jobs may be at risk of an early death. The increase in risk can be as high as 18 percent beyond that of a typical office worker, the researchers said. “Our findings suggest that there are contrasting health outcomes associated with occupational and leisure-time physical activity,” said lead researcher Pieter Coenen, from the department of public and occupational health at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. The findings are particularly important because many people are highly active at work but typically less active during leisure time, he said. “So these men, who are mostly from lower socioeconomic groups, are exposed to unhealthy physical activity at work and only benefit to a lesser extent from the positive health effects of leisure-time physical activity,” Coenen said. But the study couldn’t prove that physical activity at work causes an early death, he added. “To be fair, we are not 100 percent sure yet — more research is necessary,” he noted. In addition, whether the type of physical work has an impact on the risk of dying isn’t clear, Coenen added. “If I speculate, though, I can imagine that coal miners, who are on top of occupational physical activity, are also exposed to a whole lot of other occupational hazards,” he said. While…  read on >

Arlington, Va. is the “most fit city in America.” So says the American College of Sports Medicine. Among the nation’s 100 largest cities, Arlington had the lowest smoking rate and highest reports of very good or excellent health, the sports medicine group said. The city received an overall score of 77.7 on the college’s annual fitness index — just half a point ahead of Minneapolis and 3.7 points ahead of neighboring Washington, D.C. The fitness index analyzes 33 measures of health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure, such as walking and biking capability. Other cities in the top 10 include: Madison, Wis.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Denver; St. Paul, Minn.; San Jose, Calif.; and Boise, Idaho. The five lowest-ranked cities were: Oklahoma City; Indianapolis; Louisville, Ky.; Detroit; and Toledo, Ohio. “Obesity rates have climbed to 40 percent, and related medical costs are exceeding $147 billion yearly,” said Barbara Ainsworth, chair of the fitness index board. “Along with dietary changes, exercise is one of the best ways people can turn this around; unfortunately, only 22 percent of Americans are meeting national physical activity guidelines,” she said in a college news release. Overall, the index found that more than three-quarters of adults in all 100 cities were physically active in the previous month. But only about half met aerobic activity guidelines and just 22 percent met both strength…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — A football helmet is a necessary part of the uniform that reduces the risk of a concussion or other head injury. But the helmet has to fit properly. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these tips for selecting a football helmet: Make sure the child’s eyes are visible and that he can see straight ahead and from side to side. The helmet should cover the head from the middle of the forehead to the back of the head and should not sit too high or low. The helmet should be snug and not slide on the head. Clean the helmet regularly with mild detergent, and inspect for any damage. Store it in a temperature controlled location away from direct sunlight. Learn the symptoms of a concussion and remove your athlete from play at the first sign of this injury.

(HealthDay News) — Many people don’t get enough exercise. But a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to a host of physical and mental woes, from cancer to depression. The National Library of Medicine says an inactive lifestyle also is associated with: Obesity. Heart disease. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Stroke. Type 2 diabetes. Osteoporosis.

Rock climbing is no longer just for extreme sports athletes and thrill-seeking daredevils. With hundreds of indoor climbing facilities across the United States — plus climbing walls in local athletic clubs, sporting goods stores and even cruise ships — this fun activity continues to grow in popularity. Climbing has benefits for people of all ages. From a fitness point of view, you can expect to get a total body workout. Mental and emotional benefits include enhancing both your problem-solving skills and your self-confidence. It’s also a great way for kids to challenge themselves and feel a sense of achievement with an activity they’ll find fun. An indoor climbing wall is a great way to learn the basics. You’ll be able to experiment with hand and foot holds placed in sequences of varying difficulty and get a feel for the sport. Plus you can usually rent equipment on site until you’re ready to make the commitment to buy your own. There are many different types of rock climbing to consider, with progressive levels of difficulty: Bouldering is done at low heights and is common at indoor gyms — it’s ideal for beginners to start in a safe, controlled environment. Sport climbing is climbing up rock faces dotted with bolts, and it’s usually done with a partner. Soloing is climbing on your own, usually without a rope.…  read on >

Hit-and-run deaths in the United States reached a record high in 2016, a new report shows. “Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our analysis shows that hit-and-run crashes are a growing traffic safety challenge and the AAA Foundation would like to work with all stakeholders to help curtail this problem,” he added in a news release from the foundation. Hit-and-run deaths in the United States rose an average of 7 percent a year since 2009, with more than 2,000 deaths reported in 2016. That’s the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009, the authors of the report said. The highest per-capita rates of such deaths were in New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida, while the lowest rates were in New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota. Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-runs in the United States are pedestrians and bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were due to hit-and-runs. That’s compared to just 1 percent of all driver deaths in that same time period. Since 2006, there has been an average of 682,000 hit-and-run accidents a year according to the findings, which were released April 26. Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA, said that “it…  read on >

Heading the ball — not player collisions — may lead to temporary thinking declines in soccer players, a new study finds. “Unintentional head impacts are generally considered the most common cause of diagnosed concussions in soccer, so it’s understandable that current prevention efforts aim at minimizing those collisions,” said study author Dr. Michael Lipton. He is a professor of radiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “But intentional head impacts — that is, soccer ball heading — are not benign,” he added in a university news release. “We showed in a previous study that frequent heading is an underappreciated cause of concussion symptoms. And now we’ve found that heading appears to alter cognitive [thinking] function as well, at least temporarily,” Lipton noted. However, the study was not designed to prove that heading actually causes thinking problems. The study included more than 300 amateur soccer players, aged 18 to 55, in New York City. They were asked about how many head injuries they’d suffered and how often they’d headed the ball within the previous two weeks. During those two weeks, players headed the soccer ball an average of 45 times. About one-third of them suffered at least one accidental head impact, such as a kick to the head, or a head-to-head, head-to-ground or head-to-goal post collision. Players who…  read on >