is bowling aerobic or anaerobic

Is Bowling Aerobic Or Anaerobic? Here Are The Facts

When was the last time you went bowling? Did you think of it as exercise or merely as an activity to fill a couple of hours of your free time? The truth is, people think about different activities in various ways.

There is no doubt about it, what serves as exercise for one person may not really fit another person’s definition of the word. This is especially true when it comes to activities like bowling.

Is Bowling An Anaerobic Or Aerobic Activity?

While you can gain some physical benefits from participating in the activity, bowling is almost always an anaerobic exercise. Bowling doesn’t typically get your heart rate high enough for long enough to be considered an aerobic activity. While bowling involves standing still, bending your back and flexing your arms, it doesn’t constitute much physical exertion to be considered aerobic. 

Does Bowling Even Qualify As Exercise?

For some individuals, it most definitely does qualify as exercise, even if it ends up on the lower end of the spectrum. There is scientific proof that you have to expend a certain amount of calories in order to lift a bowling ball and then set up your shots in order to knock down pins.

You certainly won’t be burning a lot of calories with this activity, but anything beats simply sitting on the couch staring at the television for hours on end. At least when you’re bowling, you are doing something.

The truth is, this particular activity can work especially well for individuals who still like to get out and do something physical, yet don’t have the stamina or the endurance to participate in more intensive physical activities such as running, calisthenics or other intensive types of workouts.

If you happen to be one of these individuals, bowling may be a good way for you to maintain your level of flexibility without overdoing it. One of the reasons that it works so well in this capacity is because you have the opportunity to sit down in between turns.

This can be especially beneficial for anyone who has problems standing for long periods of time or who is dealing with a lot of pain in their back or lower extremities.

Understanding The Difference Between Aerobic And Anaerobic Exercises

This is where most people get tripped up. As previously mentioned, not all exercises are created equally. Some are more intense than others by their very nature.

Exercises such as running or calisthenics typically serve as aerobic exercises for one very simple reason. When you participate in these activities at a moderate level for more than a few minutes, your heart rate gets high enough to help you further develop your cardiovascular health and your endurance.

It’s called your target heart rate and is calculated by determining exactly how many beats per minute your heart should be working at in order to give you the greatest possible benefit from the exercises you’re doing. It varies by age and fitness level, so it isn’t the same for everyone.

A good rule of thumb is to take 220 and then subtract your age. This provides you with your maximum heart rate. Your target heart rate will therefore be under this number, yet close enough to it to make sure that you’re getting a solid workout.

The goal is to exercise a level that allows you to speak in full sentences while still making your body work harder than normal.

When done properly, various types of exercises aside from running and calisthenics may also be considered aerobic in nature. For example, weight training can become an aerobic exercise if it’s done in a very specific fashion.

In order to create an aerobic exercise from weight lifting, you must set everything up so that you can quickly move from one station to the next without stopping. The goal is to keep going with a minimal amount of rest time in between stations or repetitions.

In order for the exercise to be aerobic, you have to keep your heart rate up so if you allow it to drop at any point, the exercise then becomes anaerobic.

As you might have guessed by now, anaerobic exercise refers to any exercise that does not allow you to achieve your target heart rate. As previously mentioned, traditional weight lifting is typically considered anaerobic.

Unless it is done in the aforementioned specific manner which allows you to achieve your target heart rate, it is typically considered anaerobic. However, that does not mean that it isn’t beneficial.

In fact, it is quite necessary. Typically, you need to have both aerobic and anaerobic exercises in order to develop a well-rounded fitness plan. Otherwise, you may be focusing too much on weight training or cardiovascular exercises.

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What Are Some Other Types Of Anaerobic Exercise?

For many people, they include a wide range of exercises such as swimming, walking and bowling. It all comes down to the individual in question. Someone who isn’t accustomed to regular exercise or who has certain risk factors involving their health may find that they hit their target heart rate even when simply walking.

Others have to run at more than a moderate pace in order to achieve this. It all comes down to your existing level of fitness and what you are accustomed to doing.

Therefore, it’s not as much about the exercise in question as it is about your body’s response to it. That said, bowling is still almost always considered an anaerobic exercise. You simply don’t have enough physical activity involved there to work with for this activity to be considered aerobic.

Is There A Way To Make Bowling An Aerobic Activity?

Unless you plan on doing calisthenics with the bowling balls, it’s going to be very difficult to make bowling an aerobic activity.

There is little doubt that someone out there could get creative with some type of program that requires you to do squats or sit-ups with the bowling balls while you are not actually lining up for your own shot.

If you were to participate in this type of program, it would probably be safe to say that it would indeed be aerobic in nature, especially if you’re handling one of the heavier bowling balls that you might find at your typical bowling alley.

That said, it’s a bit unlikely that you would find yourself participating in a program like this unless you have a very strong desire to combine your love of bowling and your love of working out into a single activity.

In most real world situations, bowling is not going to be an aerobic activity. By the same token, if you go to a typical bowling alley and start trying to make it one, you’re setting yourself up to get some odd looks from all of the other patrons at the very least.

As a result, it’s really best to do your aerobic exercises at the gym and leave bowling as the leisurely hobby that it is.

Is Anaerobic Exercise Still Beneficial?

This question has already been touched on briefly, but it’s important enough to revisit in a more detailed manner. Anaerobic exercise is not only beneficial, but essential for complete fitness.

Take the example with weight training. It’s absolutely crucial to do some type of weight training in addition to your cardiovascular exercises. In other words, you need both aerobic and anaerobic exercise in order to have a strong body that can handle the demands placed upon it.

Think of it this way. If all you ever do is cardiovascular exercise, you may have your heart and lungs in good shape, but what about the rest of your body? It’s fair enough to say that your legs may be in good shape as far as muscle strength goes, especially if you’re getting that cardiovascular exercise by running.

That said, you have to consider your core strength and upper body strength as well. Failing to exercise the whole body makes it more likely for you to experience injuries and to have setbacks that require you to take time off of your schedule in its entirety.

By the same token, you don’t want to do a lot of weight training and nothing else. It’s very important, crucial in fact, that you combine weight training with cardiovascular exercises in order to make sure that your heart and lungs are as healthy as possible.

In fact, it can even be dangerous to do a lot of weight training without an effective cardiovascular workout. That’s because your blood pressure rises when you lift weights.

If your heart and lungs aren’t in good shape, this can potentially cause a cardiovascular emergency because of the added strain on your heart.

Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that you’re well enough physically to participate in any type of physical activity to begin with.

Once you get the green light, it’s best to participate in strength training exercises that are anaerobic while simultaneously adopting an aerobic training program for your cardiovascular health.


At the end of the day, bowling is an activity that you might add on to your day for fun as opposed to using it as a workout. Again, it all comes back to your own personal level of fitness. If you’re fit and you routinely go to the gym, bowling is going to be about as physically taxing as sitting around playing cards for you.

On the other hand, someone who truly struggles with their mobility and can’t participate in a lot of routine exercises may find that bowling helps them with their mobility, muscle control, coordination and dexterity. Most importantly, bowling should be considered as more of an extracurricular activity instead of being the focal point of your fitness routine.


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