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The Surprising Physical Benefits of Bowling Regularly

  • Reading time:10 mins read

Bowling is a beloved American pastime and recreational activity for all ages. But did you know that bowling can also provide many unexpected health and fitness benefits?

Far from just being a leisurely activity, bowling regularly can improve your overall strength, cardiovascular health, motor skills, and coordination. It engages multiple muscle groups, gets your heart pumping, and exercises your mind-body connection.

Read on to learn the many ways bowling delivers tangible physical benefits with continued participation over time. You’ll see why bowling belongs on the list of activities that can boost your overall wellness.

Bowling Builds Overall Body Strength

One of the biggest perks of bowling is that it strengthens and tones key muscle groups throughout your body. As a moderate-intensity activity, bowling works your arms, legs, core, shoulders, and back in unique ways.

When bowling, you are required to lift and swing a 6 to 16-pound bowling ball in an underhand pitching motion. This repetitive movement builds considerable strength in your fingers, wrists, forearms, biceps, and shoulders. Gripping and controlling the bowling ball develops hand and forearm muscles necessary for grip strength.

The underhand swinging technique when delivering the ball engages your shoulder stabilizer muscles including the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. It also utilizes the upper back and lats. This improves posture and scapular strength.

As you approach the lane, you engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine during the swinging motion. The obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae all contract to support a fluid forward-bending motion. This develops core stability and coordination.

Your legs and glutes are also called into action to propel your body weight forward as you release the bowling ball. The quadriceps straighten the knee for an explosive first step, while the hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors pull the swing leg forward. This tones the thighs and buttocks.

Finally, balancing during the approach and follow-through works the calf muscles, hip adductors, and intrinsic foot muscles. This combination of movements works muscle groups that may be neglected in other sports or gym routines.

In essence, bowling provides an excellent full-body strength training workout involving muscles large and small from fingers to toes. The variety of motions challenges your body in new ways compared to typical lifting, cycling, or running.

Bowling Gets Your Heart Rate Up

Engaging in a game of bowling can get your heart thumping and breathing heavier. The stop-and-go nature of bowling means your heart rate rises and falls repeatedly throughout a session.

During active play, your heart rate typically reaches 60 to 80% of your maximum heart rate for short bursts of activity. The more vigorous the play, the higher it elevates your heart rate through increased exertion. This is considered the target zone for aerobic conditioning.

The combination of carrying, swinging, walking, bending, and spotting pins keeps your cardiovascular system active for a sustained period. A typical game of bowling lasts 30 to 60 minutes when playing at a casual to moderate pace. This sustained heart-pumping play has cardiovascular benefits comparable to light jogging or cycling.

Getting your heart rate into the target zone repeatedly while bowling trains your circulatory system and strengthens your heart muscle. It improves lung capacity, oxygen uptake, and blood flow to keep your vital organs functioning optimally.

Both young and mature bowlers can achieve aerobic training effects from the sport’s unique stop-start pattern. Bowling is an enjoyable way to reinforce heart health and keep your entire cardiovascular system fit.

Bowling Improves Motor Skills and Coordination

Bowling requires a combination of physical movements and mental focus, making it excellent for developing motor skills and coordination. More than just raw muscle power, bowling engages proprioception, balance, and body awareness.

Throwing a bowling ball demands focused hand-eye coordination. You must coordinate the swing and release of the ball with the targeted knockdown of pins. Developing this visual tracking and accuracy enhances overall coordination.

Bowling also requires spatial awareness and balance during the approach, backswing, release, and follow-through. You need to control your body’s momentum evenly on both sides while handling the bowling ball. This symmetric full-body engagement trains motor control.

The sport utilizes both the dominant and non-dominant sides of your body equally. The asymmetric stimulation of using both hands and legs builds coordination. For example, a right-handed bowler will swing with the right arm but step forward and balance on the left leg.

This cross-lateral movement challenges and strengthens connections between your brain’s left and right hemispheres. Along with hand-eye coordination, bowling engages your mind-body awareness at multiple levels.

Lastly, bowling relies on eye-foot coordination as you track your target where to aim, and approach the foul line. Lining up accurate shots improves your overall proprioception.

As you can see, bowling uniquely exercises multiple facets of physical balance, movement, spatial processing, and neuromuscular control. These enhance both gross motor skills and fine motor skills critical to everyday coordination.

Bowling Can Aid Weight Loss

The rise in obesity worldwide has more people looking for fun activities that can also help shed pounds. Bowling delivers a legitimate fitness benefit by burning a solid amount of calories and supporting weight loss goals.

A 150-pound person will burn approximately 200 calories per 30 minutes of casual bowling. Those nearer 200 pounds can burn over 300 calories in the same time frame. This calorie burn adds up quickly over the course of a 2 to 3-game bowling outing.

The combination of moderate physical activity plus the use of muscles throughout your body contributes significantly to energy expenditure while bowling. The more physically engaged you are in each frame, the more calories you will burn.

Bowling has an advantage over lower-intensity activities like golf or softball when it comes to fat-burning potential. The constant motion of bowling engages more large muscle groups that require considerable energy to fuel. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume.

The social nature of bowling can motivate people to be active rather than remain sedentary. People bowl in leagues or groups which gets them moving versus sitting at home. Burning a few hundred extra calories several times per week makes a big difference in reaching a calorie deficit.

In addition to calorie burning during play, bowling can build lean muscle mass through the resistance training involved. Having more lean muscle boosts your metabolism so you burn more calories naturally day to day.

Bowling is clearly not as intense for weight loss as hardcore strength training, running, or competitive sports. However, as a moderate-intensity activity, bowling has measurable calorie-burning effects that contribute to overall fitness and shedding excess pounds.


For a recreational team activity often associated with food and drinks, bowling offers some clear and perhaps unexpected physical benefits. Regular participation provides measurable gains in muscle strength, heart health, coordination, calorie burn, and more.

Bowling works the body from head to toe through a full range of motions involving dexterity, balance, core engagement, and aerobic exertion. It exercises muscle groups and motor skills that are often underserved. Plus, bowling is fun, social, and suitable for all ages and most fitness levels.

So whether you are looking for a new way to get in shape or reinforce existing wellness routines, look no further than your local bowling lanes. The benefits outlined in this article demonstrate that bowling can deliver tangible physical results over time.

Bowling is an accessible activity hiding in plain sight with fitness advantages you can feel. It is time to rethink bowling as a key component to your exercise regimen rather than just a recreational activity. Lace up those bowling shoes and roll your way to greater strength, heart health and coordination today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What physical benefits can be obtained from bowling?

Bowling can build strength, improve heart health, enhance coordination and motor skills, burn calories, and aid weight loss through engaging multiple muscle groups and elevating heart rate.

How does bowling help you physically?

Bowling helps physically by working the arms, shoulders, chest, back, core, and legs and improving cardiovascular conditioning. It also enhances proprioception, balance, hand-eye coordination, and mind-body connection.

What are the benefits we can gain in learning bowling?

Learning bowling can improve overall physical fitness, strengthen muscles, develop motor skills like coordination and balance, provide an aerobic workout, and burn calories. It’s also a social activity that motivates being active.

Why bowling has both physical health benefits and social benefits?

Bowling combines physical activity with social interaction. It engages muscle groups and the cardiovascular system while allowing bonding time with friends and family. This blend provides combined mental, emotional, and physical health benefits.

Can you gain muscle from bowling?

Yes, bowling can help gain muscle, especially in the arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs by incorporating a weight (the bowling ball) into motion. Over time, bowling strengthens these muscle groups.

How much exercise do you get from bowling?

Bowling for 30-60 minutes typically burns 200-300 calories. It elevates heart rate like light jogging while also engaging muscles through swinging motions. This makes it moderate exercise. More vigorous play increases the benefits.

How the sport bowling improve your mind and body?

Bowling enhances hand-eye coordination, balance, and motor skills which benefit the mind-body connection. It also stimulates the brain while providing an aerobic workout, improving physical and mental fitness.

Can you be naturally good at bowling?

Some people may have natural abilities like hand-eye coordination that provide an advantage in bowling. However, anyone can become a skilled bowler through proper technique training and frequent practice to develop muscle memory.

Is bowling a physical sport?

Yes, bowling is considered a physical sport. It requires physical skills like strength, balance, and coordination. It provides an upper and lower body workout while raising heart rate and burning calories, meeting key criteria for a sport.