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Health and fitness at sea

Health and fitness at sea
Basketball on a ship before the sun sets

With heavy workloads to deal with, maintaining one’s health and fitness can be a challenge

Studies revealed that offshore workers’ weight ballooned regularly by 20 per cent over the past 30 years. Another study showed up to 75 per cent of Danish seafarers are overweight. Data from ship managers suggests that as many as 10 per cent of Filipino seafarers are obese before heading to sea.

Mitigating unhealthy lifestyles with fitness
Seafarers are snacking more and consuming huge amounts of calories, arising possibly from bad cooking. The by-product is craving for junk food – jeopardising health, wellbeing and even safety. Though staying fit is essential, seafarers were observed to smoke and drink more compared to exercising – compromising their health as a result. Moreover, unhealthy lifestyle factors such as minimal work life balance, paired with high stress and sleep deprivation can also affect health onboard.

The benefits of fitness and exercise are abundant. Exercise strengthens one both physically and mentally. People who exercise experience less stress. Keeping their weight under control also improves sleep and digestion, stabilises blood sugar, and enhances concentration and self-confidence.

Recognising the need to keep fit and applying it can be challenging. It is inevitable for seafarers to lack energy for exercise after a hard day’s work. It is also tricky to engage seafarers’ motivation given the existing work environments and unhealthy health habits within reach. Many seafarers expressed an interest to exercise but found it hard to find time, or be motivated. More efforts are needed to encourage and facilitate exercise, apart from ensuring food nutrition onboard.


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