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Is Bowling good Anaerobic Exercise? – Seniors and Life Sports II

I have no desire to age gracefully. My goal is to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. There are things I can no longer do as quickly as I once could. But I can still do those things, some even better. Part of the reason I’m able to physically do more than many of my peers is simple. That reason is exercise, and I’m a firm believer in having an active lifestyle. To that end, I participate in both aerobic exercises, such as jogging and anaerobic exercise, where there are short bursts of intense movement followed by a period of rest.

Everyone ages, it’s inevitable, but it’s not a death sentence. How we choose to age is largely a matter of choice. Being active both mentally and physically is how we remain independent. Last week I started a series on the benefits of different life sports. I first looked at pickleball, sharing six benefits that anyone, young or old, can realize.

Pickleball may be the fastest growing sport in the US, but it will be a while before it catches up to bowling. According to the United States Bowling Congress1, more than 70 million people in the United States bowl regularly. Of that number, almost two million are involved in leagues and tournaments sponsored by the Congress. A high percentage is involved in the seniors (over 50) division. The 2019 championships will take place, August 6-9, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the 2020 championship will be held in Las Vegas.

Anaerobic Exercise for Seniors

If you have ever been bowling, you have probably noticed a large number of senior participants. It’s a no-brainer that many seniors bowl solely for the camaraderie. Because it is a great sport for groups, many don’t stop to think of bowling as an anaerobic exercise. It’s one of the best. Here are a few benefits and bowling facts we should all consider.

  • Strengthens and tones muscles – AZ Central2, a division of the USA Today Network, cites that,” the repeated flexing, bending, twisting and stretching that occurs tones your shoulders, arms, chest and leg muscles. The act of gripping the ball helps strengthen your hands. An average bowler using a ball that weighs 16 pounds swings a total of 864 pounds in a three-game series, which is more than one-third of a ton.”
  • Promotes balance and flexibility – The Bowling Universe3 notes that “the twisting, lunging and stretching bowling requires improves your flexibility. Every time you extend your arm and body, your joints, ligaments, and muscles are extending with it. Not to mention, carrying extra weight on your upper half leads your lower half to offset the difference with improved balance and posture.”
  • Burns calories – Kenneth Byrd4, writing online for Bowling for Beginners, notes that bowling is great for burning calories. Carrying the ball sixty feet several times, roughly a half-mile, throughout three games is the equivalent of jumping rope for 25 minutes.
  • Promotes hand-eye coordination – To me, it makes sense, but the website literature of Parkway Lanes’5, of Allentown, PA, says it best, “throwing any object with the intent to hit a target requires concentration and technical strategy. The focus required to aim and hit 10 pins, nearly 60 feet away requires the type of focus that stimulates mental alertness.”
  • Fights dementia – Sheryl Jean6, writing in the Dallas Morning News, looks at ways to fight dementia. Bowling, because of the strategy involved, helps with memory and developing a plan of action to knock down the remaining pins if you don’t throw a strike on your first toss.

Is Bowling a Sport that Seniors can do? 

Most people may ask themselves may  “Is bowling a sport?”  I believe the question has been answered in the affirmative. Bowling is also an opportunity to meet with friends and engage in some healthy anaerobic exercise. Plus, if you are of legal age (and most seniors are) you can consume a few adult beverages. There’s also the friendly competition and the throwing of a few unintended gutter balls.

Benefits of Bowling for Seniors

We don’t think of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits it provides. But they exist and anyone can enjoy them, especially seniors. Is bowling a sport? Not only is it a sport, but it is also a  great form of anaerobic exercise. Therefore, it behooves adult children to consider encouraging their elderly parents to perhaps take up bowling.

Bowling, like pickleball, might be too much for some, but I still firmly believe bowling is a sport or exercise regimen most any senior can enjoy. If neither bowling nor pickleball is your senior’s thing check out these other exercises for seniors. I encourage all adult children to help their elderly parents find a sport they will enjoy and stick with. Physical benefits aside, you should ultimately want your elderly parents to have fun. Enjoy exercising with your parent; bowling allows you to walk, carry some weight, provides good balance, and helps improve good hand-eye coordination for seniors.

In the spirit of community, I’m inviting you to share how participating in bowling or any other sport has benefited you or another family member. You could be encouraging someone else to experience the same benefits. Comment below when the last time you went bowling with your elderly parents?