How to Stay Fit and Focused on Ships?

Hectic work schedules and stress make seafarers a part of the ‘unhealthy’ population, which is on the rise. Of course if staying fit and being active was easy, this wouldn’t have been the case.

Working on ships is a challenging job as it’s mentally tiring and physically exhausting. Stress and professional woes break down the body’s energy levels. The tiredness is so much that the seafarers are unable to stumble on time to take a stroll in fresh air or even hit the gym. This leads to increase in the level of physical and psychological stress of seafarers.

Of course, such frenzied work affects the seafarer but “prioritizing what’s important” is still relevant for the ‘over-clocking’ brains and to make the struggle easier.

Surely anyone can spend at least 15-20 mins a day on their physical and mental improvement rather than working deadbolts, but onboard that is not the case, mostly. Instead the folks have no choice left other than giving preference to grub into their daily meals, playing dead due to fatigue by springing into and off their beds and then again, stumbling back into their  daily shipboard routines.

Whether its stress or time management, in this post we’re going to discuss what can be done to break down the mental walls while at sea and thus keep oneself fit.

Moreover, as discussed earlier most of the seafarers struggle with a sedentary lifestyle. They never fall into the traction nor adhere to their goals of staying FIT. This is completely normal as they are aware of the stressful job. Very few seafarers take time off their daily routines and invest in health. Those who do so, have an inspiring attitude. Subsequently, it may be so that others might feel encouraged and follow suit. And for those seafarers who are still contemplating and giving excuses here are some things to remember:

Stay Engaged. Stay Motivated

With the increasing amount of internet usage there’s more information and advice than you could ever possibly make use of. The idea is to not only seize the information but also remain engaged and adhered to the goals! This definitely requires to have the right attitude in life  along with great determination and patience.

Start small

Let’s say, you had in the 12 hours of the actual rest period decided that it was possible to start off daily with a 30 mins workout. This routine seemed doable for a while until you had to miss a day, then another because of a change in work schedule or working extra hours and eventually had to give up. Now the motivation has been lost. To re-engage, although it might seem difficult it is not impossible.

merchant navy

If you’re having trouble with every day, start off with twice a week or maybe once. Whatever it is, start with something you can surely do and do it effortlessly. A brisk walk for half an hour on the ship’s deck can do wonders, too. But consistency is the way to move forward. If you feel too tired at the end of the day make sure you continue your regime the next day, and so on. Schedule it in advance and it’ll be not that hard to remember you have a goal in mind. Getting started is just the beginning.

Whatever it is you do, have fun

Whatever you do, enjoy it. Choose something that will reward you and make you feel good about. It can be a game of Table Tennis (which of course is widely popular among the seafarers) or yoga or for that matter even lifting weights. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you’ll have a great time doing, and keep progressing.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

No one’s perfect; stumbling and failures are bound to happen. The cycle many of us know: “you try to do something with good intentions, you stumble, get frustrated, and give up”, has to be revised by consistency and self motivation on board at sea. Exercise on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated.

deck cadet
Credits: darn13/

Remember, a healthy mind and a healthy body is one’s own protégé. There are tons of health and wellness resources such as self-help books, articles and studies of varied researches to start with. Read Top 15 ways to keep your mind and body fit on ships and Ways to break monotony on the ship to start with.

Use technology, but wisely

With the rise in technological paraphernalia, wouldn’t it be great if we combined the workouts or training with a personal trainer in our pockets, for example, with the help of the smart phone apps that are widely and easily available in the market. The idea is to make the environment more social and enjoyable.

But do make sure that you don’t get carried away or waste time in choosing from the plethora of phone apps or task managers, instead choose one which is user-friendly and use it wisely. A simple calendar record or a self made workout excel sheet can be used too. Secret is to – keep you going – Tech should be meant to build better habits and not the habit itself. Moreover, the advent of internet on board ships has also improved the life of the seafarers to a great extent.

Being a seafarer means your well-being should be of top most priority. When at sea, make use of time but before you do so, make sure you’re mentally and physically ready for your fitness goals. Consistency will make sure you don’t want to still feel miserable every time you begin a workout. Just like going for watches or daily routines, caring for your health should be second nature.

Experts have agreed that the turning point is when we realize that we’re in total control of our choices and not sold by someone else’s choices. Once you make that realization, diet or exercise, being honest with yourself will keep you sailing ambitiously and avoid setting yourself up for failure.

Additional reading on ways to stay healthy on ships 


How to Deal with Long Distance Relationships?

How to Improve Interpersonal Relationships on Ships?

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About Author

Bikram Pal Singh – is a professional mariner and blogger. He has sailed extensively serving on various Oil tankers and Offshore Vessels. Currently a Chief Officer, he enjoys reading and compiling notes about critical shipboard operations and crew psychology. When not sailing, he loves backpacking, is an ardent adventurer and a certified diver.

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