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Handball and its health benefits

Handball is a massively popular sport across Europe but in the UK it's relatively unknown.

It's a fast paced game with similarities to basketball and netball. It was first played as an Olympic sport in Berlin in 1936.

Some of the top professional players in countries like Denmark, France and Norway pick up six figure salaries.

Handball: Rules of the game

There are seven players on each side. The aim is to pass and bounce the ball up the court and shoot for goal from outside the goal area, much like five-a-side football.

Players can jump over the court so long as they release the ball before they touch the floor, and because defenders are allowed to block the attackers it can be exciting to watch.

It's not uncommon to see 50 goals or more in a single match.

There are men's and women's handball teams.

Legacy sport

There are three organisations promoting the sport in the UK: British handball, England handball and Scottish handball.

They all have details of handball clubs to join if you've been inspired by the Olympics or just want to give it a go.

England handball hopes it'll will become the legacy sport of 2012. As people become more familiar with it they hope more will take it up and understand why it's so popular in other parts of Europe.

Handball health benefits

Handball can be really fast, so it's a great way to get into shape. Apart from the aerobic benefit, it helps to build up muscle tone and strength.

The court is 40metres long and 20 metres wide so players can run several miles during each 60-minute game. All of the jumping, turning and slamming means most muscles are getting a vigorous workout.

Who can play handball?

Handball is not just for Olympians or children.

New clubs are springing up across the country and will welcome players of any age.

Information and details about clubs and how to get involved can be found at British handball, England handball and Scottish handball.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith on August 02, 2012

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