Top 15 Ways to Keep Your Mind and Body Fit On board Ships

The saying “Health is Wealth” may sound a bit cliché in the first place, but the challenges that Seafarers face on board ship makes one realize the importance of good health while working in rough environment on ships.

While the term “wellness” is gaining popularity these days, have you pondered, what is its significance to the life of the Seafarers’ on board? For me, wellness simply means being physically, emotionally, and spiritually sane all the time. To stay at your best through healthy choices and to keep fit and trim while sailing starts with a lifestyle change. Nothing is impossible, even on board ships. Here are top 15 ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle on board.

Photograph by Chief Engr. Robert S. Joaquin

Photograph by Chief Engr. Robert S. Joaquin

1) Eat Right

Opt for Healthier choices: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and fish. Choose white meat over red meat. It is best to have it grilled, roasted or steamed rather than fried, because of the saturated fats contained in oil.  However, it will put to test the skills of the Chief Cook on board to prepare a healthier meal. When eating eggs, have it boiled. Eat the egg whites only because it contains zero cholesterol. When eating breads choose for wheat bread over white one because it has a low glycemic index. When brown rice is not available, reduce the amount of white rice intake for a better glucose control.  Never skip Breakfast. That is the most important meal of the day. Choose “oatmeal” for those who are trying to manage their blood Cholesterol levels. For those who are trying to maintain their blood pressure, as much as possible, avoid salty foods. Sodium can trigger fluctuations in blood pressure.

2) Drink Milk

Milk is not just for children. Try to drink milk at least two (2) glasses every day to supplement your calcium. As our body ages, the bones become weak and we might be at risk of Osteoporosis. Milk helps a lot in providing the necessary calcium.

3) Minimize Sweets as Dessert

For those have sweet tooth or are chocolate lovers, opt for the dark chocolate when the craving takes over. However, instead of ice cream and cakes, it is best to eat fresh fruits. Just give yourself a break to indulge at least once a week.

4) Take a Walk or Jog

An early morning or evening brisk walk or jog for 30-40 minutes around the ship in good weather can create wonders. You will enjoy both the benefits of the fresh ocean breeze for your lungs and can walk to a healthier you.

5) Swim

Some commercial vessels are fitted with swimming pools. Take a plunge. Swimming is still the best form of exercise. 

6) Fitness Centre / Gymnasium

In cases where outdoor activity is not possible, have fun with the gym equipment available on your ship for at least thirty (30)  to forty (40)minutes to tone your muscles, abs and trim your bulges. Sweat it out to burn extra calories and expel the toxins from the body through sweat.

7) Engage in some Sports

Rekindle the child in you; some vessels have extra spaces that can be use for outdoor sports. It is also a good way to bond with your colleagues, doing teamwork the fun way. Playing table tennis can also provide good exercise to your body.

8) Detoxify Daily

As a rule of thumb, drink at least eight ( 8) glasses of water daily. Chew your food very well while eating for easier digestion and to avoid constipation. Cleanse your body at least once a day. When our bodies have an overload of toxins, our liver weakens and can no longer function properly, and needs immediate cleaning. The toxins that cling to the intestinal walls can weaken our body cells and impair its proper functioning leading to the development of various body ailments and poor health.

9) Moderate Alcohol Intake

For those who work in a shipping company that has no alcohol policy onboard, please take it in stride and occasionally. Know your limits. When drinking alcoholic beverages, it should settle in your stomach and not in your head.

10) Limit the Intake of Soft Drinks/Carbonated Drinks

Cola contains caffeine and all carbonated drinks use carbonic acid. Some contains a small percentage of Phosphoric and citric acid that might irritate the gastric glands, when taken on empty stomach. Moreover, there are loads of calories on them that increase your body weight. Cut carbonated drinks as much as possible.

11) Stay Connected

Keep your lines of communications open. With the advent of modern technology, keeping in touch with your families and networks of friends is as easy as ABC. Sharing and talking to your closed ones acts like a stress buster.

12) Do Yoga as an exercise

As the Wikipedi says – Yoga is a term for a range of traditional systems of physical exercise and meditation in Hinduism. For therapeutic purposes, modified versions of the physical exercises in Hatha Yoga have become popular as a kind of low-impact physical exercise. Yoga has been proved very beneficial for both physical and mental aspects of the body. Make sure you include it in your routine.

13) Have a Positive Attitude

Be adaptable. Keep an open mind to change and welcome innovations. Change is the only thing that is constant, so try to keep abreast with the latest developments in technology that fuels the brain. While working in a team, be open to ideas. Have a positive attitude on board ship, no matter what. 

14) Don’t Forget to Pray

Being spiritual has its own benefits. Praying regularly has been scientifically proved to have positive effects on life, on both body and soul. Praying is definitely the best way to start and end your day.

15) Always Keep a Happy disposition

The roads to happiness depend on the choices you make. Regardless of what has transpired during the day, do not frown or fret. Never let unfavourable situations, thoughts or things wear your down. Just try to put a smile in your face and the world will unknowingly smile back at you. This would work in your favour especially on ships where you have to deal with the same faces every day.

The journeys to a healthier and happier YOU start with a single BIG step…COMMIT yourself to WELLNESS!

Eigh Chuahu Tiu is a loving wife to a Filipino Master Mariner working with AP Moller Maersk-Singapore. A Chemical Engineer by profession, who has worked as a Sr. Process Control Engineer in the Billet Steel Making Plant of National Steel Corporation in Illigan City, Philippines, she has sailed and seen the world through her husband’s eyes.


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