Staying Healthy On Board

16 January 2015 By Hillary Hoffower

“Time! And making sure you stay motivated to stay inshape…some days you just don’t want to wake up early and other days all youwant to do is sit down, grab a drink to unwind and not work out,” writes one member addressing what thebiggest challenge is to exercising on board in Dockwalk’s staying healthy on board poll.

His words echo the feeling among many respondents, who oftencited time as one of the main challenges to working out. In fact, 16 percent ofrespondents never exercise because there isn’t time. Forty-one percent exercisetwo to three days a week, 34 percent exercise four days a week or more and ninepercent exercise only once a week or less.

“My biggest challenge is maintaining a good exercisingroutine with a changing work schedule and/or itinerary,” comments onestewardess.

“The biggest challenge is trying to get time to exercisewithout getting [in] cahoots with the captain or other crew,” adds anotherstewardess. “Basically, negative attitudes make it difficult to do any sort ofpositive care of the self.”

But time wasn’t the only obstacle. According to respondents,other deterrents included finding private space, lack of energy, dedication,consistency, limited room and rich food. With more than enough challenges, it’seasy to come up with excuses for not keeping healthy on board. So just how docrew fit exercise in?

For those who manage to find time, 45 percent exercise atnight after duties are completed, 39 percent wake up early before starting theday, 34 percent exercise during any downtime, 30 percent in between charters ortrips and 14 percent during their scheduled breaks. Eleven percent exerciseduring refit and another 11 percent still just don’t find the time.

Running was the most popular form of exercise (39 percent),although an equal percentage of respondents also create their own fitnessregime. Thirty-four percent consider their daily work to be their exercise,followed by yoga/pilates (27 percent), swimming (16 percent) and use of anonboard gym (14 percent). Seven percent don’t exercise at all and 27 percentexercise in other ways, including going to the gym, hitting the weights,hiking, playing tennis and doing suspension training.

But what is exercise without the balance of nutrition? Thegeneral consensus is that maintaining the proper diet on board isn’t alwayseasy. As one mate puts it, “The snack cupboard is always an eviltemptation…especially when things get hectic or stressful.”

Thirty-four percent of respondents said their chefssometimes plan healthy crew meals, 27 percent said their chefs do most of thetime, 20 percent said always, 14 percent said rarely and five percent saidnever.

“You don’t have a choice in what is cooked for you each mealand the convenience of it being there means you eat it,” said a second stew. “Alsoeating late at night if you didn’t have dinner then feeling like you need sugarto keep you going.”

Another stew agrees. “You are not in control of what youeat, and the portion control is always challenging, as the food is so good,”she wrote. “You don’t always have time to make your own meals and you can onlyeat so much cereal.”

When it comes to visiting the doctor, only 20 percent ofrespondents make time for regular wellness checkups, most going once a yearwhen they have time off or are on leave. For a couple others, yearly checkupswere required by their yacht.

When asked what the biggest health issue is facing crew, 30percent of respondents cited drinking too much, followed by lack of properexercise (25 percent), lack of sleep (23 percent), sun exposure (seven percent)and regular wellness care (seven percent). Eight percent responded other.

With a variety of issues and challenges, do crew overall findthemselves to be in good health? Surprisingly, sixty-nine percent ofrespondents say yes, although 34 percent find time to exercise but don’t eat ashealthy as they’d like and five percent eat healthy but find exercisingimpossible. Fourteen percent don’t think they’re in good healthy and theremaining 17 percent consider themselves to be in decent health, but don’t makean effort to be healthy.

Staying healthy on board is certainly no easy task, but canbe possible if you’re willing to work your way through or around the obstacles.How do you do it?

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