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Can Bowling Help You Lose Weight? The Surprising Truth

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It happened by chance one night – my friends invited me out bowling and I reluctantly agreed, not expecting much except for a few laughs and some nachos.

But surprisingly, that innocent bowling excursion made me realize something – I felt great after the activity and noticed it even gave me a bit of a workout!

Bowling may not be the intense cardio kickboxing class, but as it turns out, consistently bowling a few games every week may actually help you lose weight and get in shape.

While it won’t replace proper diet and exercise, bowling provides an enjoyable activity that can burn calories, build muscle, and motivate you to keep active consistently.

So if you’ve been looking for a fun way to shed some pounds and improve your fitness, it’s time to revisit your local bowling alley. Read on to learn more about how bowling can surprisingly help you lose weight with routine play.

Calories Burned Bowling

When determining a good weight loss activity, an important factor is the number of calories it burns per hour. And bowling holds its own in comparison to other exercises.

According to a Harvard Medical School study, a 155-pound person will burn around 167 calories per 30 minutes of bowling. That equates to approximately 300 calories burned per hour of bowling.

For comparison, according to the Mayo Clinic calorie calculator, that same 155-pound person would burn just 204 calories walking at a moderate pace for an hour. So bowling burns about 50% more calories than a moderate walk!

Bowling can also burn more calories than weight training, yoga, and other light activities. Of course, more strenuous exercises like swimming, running, and cycling will burn more per hour.

But bowling remains an effective calorie-burning activity, especially considering it doesn’t feel overly exhausting. Adding just 2-3 bowling sessions per week can significantly impact your overall calorie expenditure and weight loss goals.

Muscle Groups Worked

Bowling isn’t all about simple arm movements – it actually engages diverse muscle groups throughout your body to help build strength while you burn calories. Here are some of the major muscles worked during a bowling session:

  • Glutes and Quadriceps: Lunging moves during the bowling approach engage your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to propel the ball forward. Your legs provide a key power source.
  • Core: Your core stabilizes your body as you swing the bowling ball. Your abdominals, obliques, and lower back get a focused workout.
  • Shoulders and Back: Winding up and swinging the bowling ball works your deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, lats, and other upper back muscles.
  • Biceps and Triceps: Lifting and controlling the bowling ball requires contracting your biceps to curl and triceps to extend your forearm.
  • Chest and Forearms: Supporting and aiming the ball engages your pectorals and forearm flexors like your wrist and finger muscles.

So while not overly strenuous, bowling uses your major upper and lower body muscle groups together in a coordinated, active manner. The resistance from bowling balls that typically weigh between 10 to 16 pounds adds a strength training element as well.

Bowling for Routine Weight Loss

While an occasional bowling outing won’t make you lose significant weight, making bowling a habit can definitely start to move the scales downward.

According to Wisconsin bowling coach Barb Roloff, a beginning bowler playing 2-3 games 2-3 times per week can expect to lose about 10 pounds over the course of several months. This assumes no other changes to diet or additional exercise.

Even just bowling 1-2 games per week will expend extra calories that can contribute to gradual fat loss over time. Consistency is key – it’s the repetition of bowling frequently that yields results. If weight loss is your goal, bowling more often for shorter periods may be more effective than a single long 3-hour marathon session.

Of course, monitoring your food intake remains paramount for weight loss. But adding regular bowling to your routine creates a calorie deficit through increased physical activity. It also builds lean muscle mass which further raises your resting metabolism.

Bowling Game Strategies for Maximum Fat Burn

If you want to maximize calorie expenditure and fat burning during your bowling sessions, here are some helpful strategies:

  • Use lighter bowling balls (10-12 lbs) to increase swinging and rolling effort. Heavier balls knock down more pins but don’t burn as many calories.
  • Take less time between turns. Keep your heart rate elevated by bowling frames back-to-back.
  • Limit rest time between games. Step right up for the next game with minimal downtime.
  • Do not rely on bowling alley food and drinks which are calorie-dense. Bring your own healthy snacks and water.
  • Take the stairs up to the bowling area rather than the elevator. More calories are burned before you even start bowling!
  • Stay on your feet as much as possible rather than sitting between turns. Keep that heart pumping!

Using these bowling strategies can help maximize the fat-burning potential of your bowling outing. But remember – stay hydrated, listen to your body, and don’t overdo it to the point of injury. Consistent, moderate-intensity bowling will yield the best results.

Additional Bowling Benefits

Beyond physical activity and calorie burning, regular bowling provides other benefits that can support your weight loss motivations:

  • Social and Fun Activity – Bowling is a fun group activity that provides a social, interactive way to get active and meet people. Having this social motivation and accountability can help you stick to a bowling routine.
  • Stress Relief – Rolling balls knock down pins and knock down your stress too. The physical activity combined with social fun provides stress relief that supports weight loss goals.
  • Healthy Competition – Friendly competition in bowling can motivate you to try harder, play longer, and increase your bowling fitness. Tracking scores and stats provides concrete feedback and goals.
  • Entertainment – Simply put, bowling is entertaining! Having fun playing a game you enjoy makes it easier to sustain as a habit. It doesn’t feel like a boring workout.

The combination of physical exercise with these psychological and social perks makes bowling a sustainable long-term activity for supporting your weight loss regimen.

Bowling Athletes Show It Works

Looking for physical proof that bowling can create a lean, athletic physique? Just look at professional bowlers competing at the highest levels.

Pro bowlers like Jason Belmonte, Osku Palermaa, and Liz Johnson demonstrate that bowling can absolutely provide an effective strength and cardio workout. Top bowlers have well-defined arms, strong legs, and slim waists and cores.

Of course, pro bowlers supplement with additional fitness training. But bowling remains their primary activity demonstrating how the sport can shape a lean, athletic body.

So next time someone says bowling is just a recreational activity, point them to the toned, muscular physiques of the pros! Bowling can clearly help burn fat and tone muscle with routine practice.


Based on the calorie-burning stats, muscle activation, and real-world examples, bowling absolutely can contribute to effective weight loss when done consistently and with proper intensity.

The key takeaways around bowling and weight loss are:

  • Bowling burns 200-300 calories per hour, comparable to many other exercises.
  • Lunging and swinging motions engage diverse upper and lower body muscle groups.
  • Adding just 2-3 bowling games, 2-3 times per week leads to gradual fat loss over time.
  • Maximizing calorie burn requires lighter balls, quicker pacing, and avoiding excess rest.
  • Additional social, competitive, and motivational perks promote sustainability.
  • Professional bowlers demonstrate the lean, athletic physique achievable through routine bowling.

So dust off those bowling shoes and schedule a trip to the lanes! Adding bowling as part of a comprehensive fitness and diet regimen can most certainly help you lose weight and get fit. Just stick with it and have fun watching those pounds melt away one pin at a time!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does bowling burn belly fat?

Bowling can help burn belly fat and lose weight overall when done consistently. The twisting, and swinging motions engage core muscles like the abdominals and obliques. Building core strength while burning calories reduces belly fat over time.

Can you get fit from bowling?

Yes, bowling can improve your fitness when done regularly. It provides a cardio workout that burns calories while also using muscles throughout the body to build strength and tone. Many professional bowlers have lean, athletic builds from bowling.

Does bowling keep you fit?

Bowling helps maintain an overall level of fitness when done routinely as part of an active lifestyle. The activity burns a solid amount of calories and uses a wide range of muscles to preserve muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness.

Can bowling burn calories?

Absolutely. Bowling burns an estimated 200-300 calories per hour, which is on par with many other moderate exercise activities. The constant movement of bowling works the upper and lower body and keeps your heart rate elevated.

Which sport burns the most belly fat?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are often considered the most effective for burning belly fat. Sports that incorporate sprinting or explosive bursts like soccer, basketball, tennis, and racquetball can provide an intense HIIT workout and burn visceral fat.

How to lose belly fat in 2 weeks?

Losing significant belly fat in 2 weeks requires a very strict regimen. You need a large daily calorie deficit from diet and exercise, high-intensity cardio workouts, eliminating bloat-causing foods, staying well hydrated, managing stress, and getting enough sleep. Even then, a loss of just a few percent of belly fat in 2 weeks would be a great success.

How many days a week should I practice bowling?

To see weight loss results, practicing bowling 2-3 times per week for at least one hour per session is recommended. This provides sufficient calorie burning throughout the week for gradual fat loss over time. More frequent bowling will likely accelerate your weight loss results.

How many calories does 2 hours of bowling burn?

Bowling for 2 hours will burn about 400-600 calories for most people, assuming a moderate pace with minimal rest time. Heavier bowling balls and more powerful throws will burn even more calories. Over a week, bowling for 2 hours 3 times burns an extra 1,200-1,800 calories.

Why is my body sore after bowling?

Bowling uses muscles throughout the body with lunging, twisting, and swinging motions. This can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) afterward, especially if you are new to bowling. As your body adapts, soreness should decrease. Stretching helps reduce bowling muscle soreness.