After a busy festive season of overindulgence and gluttony it is now time to look a little closer at health and fitness, well for me at least. This year I was fortunate enough to be at home for Christmas, my second official one at home in a decade and as such I ate and drank like a king. The consequences of that have taken its toll on my midriff and with a wedding in 9 months time, I figured what better time to address health, fitness and life at sea.
Most modern ships have some form of gym space and / or fitness equipment available onboard, be it a stack of free weights or sophisticated array of fancy machines with bells and whistles. Over the years I’ve seen these spaces completely empty and absolutely full to the gunwales. It is always much easier to enjoy getting fit if you aren’t alone in the challenge and a healthy attitude on board makes all the difference. Last year I managed one full swing of going to the gym every single day because of the support from colleagues!
I have been on ships where equipment was sparse and poorly maintained and I had to rely on good old fashioned body weight exercises such as push ups and pull ups and the dreaded use of squats. On one particular trip I did the ‘one hundred press up challenge’ which is an simple to follow program easily found online that gets you in top shape over six weeks. I fully recommend that as a great way to keep fit onboard with minimal use of time and NO equipment.
Last year I purchased a Fitbit and aimed to use this to monitor my days and hopefully increase my activity levels, I can say for certain that it was a great motivator. On a normal day as Second Officer I could do as little as 1500 steps a day on a full 12 hour DP watch and had no idea I was so inactive until I started getting sciatica. With the help of the Fitbit I’ve Improved my daily step and activity count to consistently over 10,000 steps a day and my best day onboard being 68,247 steps or 30.5 miles in one day when the other Second Officer and I challenged each other to a duel! I won!
It is often difficult to find time or maintain a routine onboard as silly as that sounds whilst operating a watch system but a few hours of over time here and there or a lay in that you just couldn’t resist. Weather can also affect whether or not you can workout and can drag you from a good routine.
For me my biggest fitness issue at work or indeed at home is diet, aside from being a picky eater the quality of some of the stores we receive can be rather terrible as can the cooking skills at times. Deep fried everything isn’t really ideal for a fitness regime and I’m often glad we have no alcohol onboard. On my most recent ships the food has been brilliant, extremely varied, fresh and healthy. Snacks are available but because the bridge is so far from the Galley that often find the cakes don’t quite make that far!
Also a final comment regarding fitness: at home, at sea, travelling, wherever you are… Yoga, do Yoga. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my health and fitness, you don’t even need a mat, just bare feet.
Currently sat at home with my feet up but off to Ghana, Africa on Friday.