Billiards, Bocce and Bowling

Playing Billiards, Bocce or Bowling might not seem like “strenuous exercise” but, aside from being fun, they can play an important role in one’s efforts to stay fit. All three can help strengthen the body and contribute to one’s mental health.    

According to Pool and Billiard magazine, billiards (commonly referred to as Pool) burns calories, helps build focus, sharpens the mind, improves critical thinking skills, stretching and balancing power and hand-eye coordination. It is possible to burn between 180-240 calories per hour. Bocce and bowling can burn about the same number of calories depending on body weight and assertiveness.   

Lunging, squatting and bending while stretching your arms out and reaching across the pool cue are all forms of low impact movement. Keeping the body moving, even at a slow pace, enables you to stay limber longer and more easily and includes the simple act of walking around the table.  

Bocce, or bocce ball, can be traced back to the year 264 B.C. Roman emperor Augustus played periodically. The sport was also popular with the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates and the astronomer Galileo. Allegedly, George Washington built a bocce court at Mount Vernon in the 1780s. The outdoor sport is similar to horseshoes and can be played by people of all ages, from the youngsters to seniors. According to the lifestyle web site Elyson by Newland, bocce is the third most popular sport in the world behind soccer and golf. More than 25 million people in the U.S. play and offers a number of health related benefits.  

The importance of continually challenging the mind as we age has been widely documented.  Like billiards, bocce helps improve coordination and sharpens the mind. It also provides some light cardio exercise improves flexibility and can help relieve stress. Bocce can improve imagination and creativity through strategy planning, Visualization and problem-solving techniques add to the mix.  

Both activities can contribute to lower rates of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory lapse-based degenerative diseases and both require using mental strategy, memory, focus, and patience. Having to make quick mental decisions and strategizing helps to develop a keen and sharp mind.  

Bowling dates back 4,000 years to Greece and Rome. According to the web site, the sport helps with upper and lower body muscle exercise. It involves a significant amount of walking and sliding with the extra weight of a bowling ball in your hands. Further, when you are swinging your arm to throw the bowling ball, the stretching and flexing that occurs provides exercise for the tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints in your arms.  

Bowling can help you slim down too.  Although the game is restricted to a small area, your constant movement while playing helps burn excess fat. You’re exercising your legs while walking back and forth and working the rest of your body as you lift and swing the bowling ball down the lane.  

The Cape Henlopen Senior Center has two billiards/pool tables where individuals and league members can play. In Lewes, Lefty’s also has a billiards/pool table in addition to its bowling lanes and assorted virtual games. Lefty’s is the perfect venue for a grandchild’s bowling birthday party, or any party and its spacious restaurant/bar happy hour is known as one of the best in the area.  

Major League Bocce/Delaware is a good resource for where courts are located and league play and many residential communities are installing bocce courts as the sport gains popularity. Yelp lists various in the coastal region. There are other commercial establishments that offer billiards/pool in the coastal region including Milford Bowl and Millsboro Lanes. 

By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  

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