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Senior League Bowling And Wii Bowling Are Good For Your Health

Updated on August 31, 2013

First Challenge: Learning Bowling Lingo

What springs into your mind when you see the following words grouped together: turkey, sixpack, bender, "going all the way."

If you came up with something like, "I ate turkey on Thanksgiving, drank a sixpack of Coors, took off on a bender, picked up my sweetheart and went all the way," you probably aren't a bowler, at least not a serious lifelong bowler who belongs to a league.

Serious bowlers would have taken full advantage of this prompt to boast about the time they threw 3 strikes in a row (turkey), or even better, threw 6 strikes in a row (sixpack), or even better still, had a perfect game (going all the way). And they would have spoken lovingly about the sweet curve ball that came close to the gutter before hitting the pocket in a perfect strike (bender).

The first thing that someone new to a bowling league has to learn is the lingo because league bowlers have their own language and you feel like you're in a foreign country till you learn it.

I know because when I retired last year, I joined a senior bowling league. I thought I'd meet a lot of seniors like myself, who had done a little recreational bowling in their youth and were now trying to get out and make new friends, but what I found was many serious bowlers with 40, 50, 60 and 70 years of experience.

Don't get me wrong, everyone was wonderful to me, and most offered lots of tips to help improve my scores, but I just wasn't prepared for their level of play. Fortunately, this was a handicap league which meant that whoever got stuck being my team mates wouldn't be completely saddled with my poor scores. In a handicap league pins are awarded to a weak player like myself in an attempt to even out the game. All I had to do to make my team mates happy was maintain my average score of 90.

The Health Benefits of Bowling

This is the story of my first year in the league. I hope it will inspire other naïve, inexperienced senior bowlers like myself to join a league of their own.

And if this article isn't enough inspiration consider this: bowling is a great form of exercise for seniors, especially if you do stretches before hand and bowl regularly. Bowling helps strengthen muscles and burn off calories. Depending on how much you weigh and how much effort you use you can burn anywhere from 170 to 300 calories per game.

Even Wii bowling provides exercise, improves co-ordination and helps increases range of motion for your shoulders and wrists. There are also tremendous social benefits to competing in Wii bowling leagues.

Done right, a regular bowling regiment or regular Wii bowling can contribute to a healthy lifestyle and be a lot of fun.


Bowling Makes Me Happy

I joined a senior league at my local bowling alley looking for fun and I most certainly found it. Fellow bowlers quickly gave me the nickname, "Happiness" because I smiled and laughed a lot. It had been 35 years since I'd last picked up a bowling ball, so I got excited every time I managed to knock down more than half the pins. The occasional lucky spare and even more occasional strike set me to hooting, hollering and fist pumping.

Sometimes I was just too ignorant to know that I had no reason to rejoice. Like the first time one of my gutter balls jumped back onto the lane and knocked the remaining 2 pins down. I gave a victory hoot, celebrating my miraculous spare but this time no-one else congratulated me. Instead, Sam, the best bowler in the league, the one who used to earn his living as a professional bowler, who rarely got a score below 200 yet never seemed to smile, shook his head and said, "Doesn't count."

"Whata ya mean, it doesn't count? It's harder to knock them down the way I just should count double!" I protested, only half in jest because it was harder to do it that way.

He shook his head and with the same poker face that he'd wear after throwing a sixpack, said, "According to the rule book it doesn't count. We have to remove the spare and extra points from the computerized scoreboard."

"Alright, do what ya gotta do. Won't make any difference in the long run anyway cause so far I've got the same number of points as my age and there's only one more frame to go." (Since I was on the young end of the age spectrum that meant my score was under 60).

This time the hint of a smile crossed Sam's face. "Sorry, if it were up to me, I'd let you keep it but a rule's a rule..."

The truth was that I actually felt sorry for the excellent bowlers like Sam because as I said earlier, this was a handicap league which meant that the worse I bowled the more points my 3 person team earned for the next game. I never deliberately sandbagged a game (kept my average down in order to receive a higher handicap) but performing badly didn't necessarily hurt in the long run. It was a crazy system but as Sam said, rules are rules. Sometimes, if we were playing really competitive highly skilled opponents, my team started with a whopping 100 additional points. Just as in life, politics and taxes, there were times the rules worked against you and other times they worked for you.

But I didn't worry much about rules, scores or league standings. I was there to have fun, and had been honest when I signed up that my bowling skills were pathetic. I was placed on a team who valued enjoyment over winning, laughter over the intense concentration and effort to achieve a higher score. Hal, the leader of my team was an excellent bowler and Ginny was half-way in between us, so overall we balanced each other out. If my ball went in the gutter (again) Sam and Ginny would yell out, "Love ya anyway" and give me a hug.

Yes, happiness spreads and even if a team lost to us-- mostly because of the handicap but often because Sam pulled us through tight situations scoring strike outs (3 strikes in the final frame), our beaten opponents were great losers and usually said they never had so much fun losing.

By the end of the season, my team took third place (out of 12 teams) and we each won about $50 each. Not bad considering all the fun we had.


Senior Bowlers Are an Amazing Group

I can't end without telling you how amazing the bowlers in my league are and how much they emotionally support each other. They range in age from 55 to 90 and their physical condition is equally varied. Although most suffer from chronic diseases, aches and pains, some are remarkably fit, such as John and Sally who ride marathon races on their bikes.

No one ever uses their medical problems as an excuse. Chuck has emphysema, lost most of the fingers in his dominant hand in an accident and has retrained himself to bowl with his left hand.

Mary has Parkinson's but refuses to give up bowling because it's the highlight of her week. She stands at the starting line and pushes the ball down the lane with 2 hands the way a small child would do, but she still manages to get strikes fairly often.

Harry's son was dying and although Harry spent almost every moment with him right up until his death, Harry never missed a game except for the day of his son's wake. He was back at the bowling alley the next week because it was the only place he could get respite from his grief.

There are more stories, just as touching, but you get the point. This is a hardy group, not given to making excuses or feeling sorry for themselves. They offer each other tender compassion in between the fun and competitiveness of their bowling. And that alone was worth becoming a member of their senior league.

Wii Bowling For Seniors: The Latest Bowling Craze

Many seniors across the country, especially those in assisted living facilities and nursing homes are now enjoying Wii bowling and are even competing in Wii leagues and striving to become national champions.  

Senior Bowling Poll

Do you belong to a senior bowling league?

See results


Submit a Comment

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    3 years ago from South Carolina

    Hi Peggy,

    I'm blessed to still be doing the summer bowling league with the same two partners I started with when I wrote this hub. They're so much fun to play with and it's a wonderful day out.

    Yes, living in a state where smoking isn't allowed in public buildings is a definite plus.

    Thanks for leaving such an insightful comment and for sharing this hub.



  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    3 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Reading this again and saw your comment about the non-smoking law in your state in public buildings. You are lucky! More places are slowing moving in that direction which will benefit everyone's health. Sharing this hub. Enjoy your bowling! :))

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    4 years ago from South Carolina

    Hi Sunshine,

    Just got back from bowling and believe me, I could relate to your comment cause I threw a couple of gutter balls today including 2 in a row. Good thing my bowling team is in it for fun, not points!

    Loved your comment about the bumpers and your beautiful granddaughters.

    Hugs & Love,


  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 

    4 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Hi HBN! I'm not a serious bowler and the only bowling term I heard before was turkey, only because my SIL has rolled a few turkeys. Most important to me when bowling is that the bumpers are up in the gutter so that I at least get a few pins knocked down! Even if I didn't bowl with my granddaughters...I'd still proudly use the bumpers :)

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    7 years ago from South Carolina

    Bless you for the caregiver work you do, Hypenbird and thank you for writing a comment that really adds to my hub. Your story about the WII bowlers is awesome, especially the part about you cheerleading with pom-poms. I'd love to see a picture or video of that in a future hub. I agree that the exercise, mental stimulation, laughter and cheers that WII bowling elicits are great for seniors. It improves their sense of well-being and their co-ordination and is an excellent social activity.

  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 

    7 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    I love this Hub. The information herein can change lives. I am a caregiver for three hours a day, five days a week to a senior who lives in a retirement facility. Those seniors love WII bowling. One lady is in a wheelchair and only has limited use of one arm and she aligns that chair just right and bowls. It is so cool. One day a lady WII bowled a perfect game! I brought pom-poms and my lady and I are the "official" cheerleaders. The exercise is great and the mental stimulation helps them also. Again, this is a wonderful article. Regards, HB.

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    Thanks Katiem,

    Glad you too had a positive experience bowling on a league.

  • katiem2 profile image


    8 years ago from I'm outta here

    Bowling is one of those games where in we learn so much about ourselves and those we bowl with. I was convinced to bowl on a league at work, as they lost a person. It turned out to be such fun and what a great way to bond. I enjoyed your adventure in bowling with a senior league. Love and Peace :)

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    Hi Peggy,

    It is a lot of fun and fortunately my state has a law against smoking in public buildings so there's no more thick smoke in the bowling alley.

    Thanks for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    8 years ago from Houston, Texas

    This makes it sound like so much fun!!! The last time I was in a bowling alley in recent years the thick cigarette smoke was my main reason for not wanting to go back. We used to bowl as a family when I was young and it was always fun. Never knew the lingo however except for strikes and spares. Those were always worth celebrating! My Dad was an excellent bowler!

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    Hi Natural Remedy,

    I was trying to make this hub light and fun and I'm glad it came across that way. It's how I feel when I bowl, light-hearted and playful. Thanks for the feedback. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Natural Remedy profile image

    Natural Remedy 

    8 years ago from Canada

    Great hub. You had me laughing from the opening paragraph.

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    Thank you! I can only dream of turkeys and 6 packs!

    Congratulations on your trophy, sounds like you deserved it.

    Glad you could relate to this piece. The feedback is much appreciated.

  • vietnamvet68 profile image


    8 years ago from New York State

    I knew what you ment right away, was on a league for a couple years myself. With my bad legs I still managed to take a few turkeys and a couple 6 packs, but never had a bender.I got a trophey for best sportsman the first year, because I always had to hobble up to the line. My average was around 175 - 185, but once I made 250. Awesome Hub thanks for sharing the story.

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    I'm glad you enjoyed this piece, Stephanie.

    I usually do choose topics close to my heart, and it's nice to know that shows through in my writing. Thanks for taking time to leave this comment and provide feedback. I really appreciate it.

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 

    8 years ago from USA

    Your writing always seems to come from your heart, and I really enjoyed this article. It makes me miss my bowling days, even though I was a pretty bad bowler.

  • Happyboomernurse profile imageAUTHOR

    Gail Sobotkin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    Amazing-- another thing we have in common! Thanks for the thumbs up!

  • RNMSN profile image

    Barbara Bethard 

    8 years ago from Tucson, Az

    this is awesome!! I love to bowl and my score is 90 to 100 as well!!! you go girl!! you rock!!


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