If you’re a sail boat owner you might not give too much thought to staying in shape while at sea – managing a sailboat can be a fairly physically demanding process at times, but if you’re out for days at a time and you like to stay in shape, you might want to supplement your efforts with some additional exercises. If you own a motor yacht and like to stay in shape then you’ll almost certainly need to do something if you don’t want to come ashore heavier than when you left!
Obviously the size and design of your boat will have a big impact on what exercises you can and can’t do, but oftentimes a little creative thought is all that’s needed to work an area of the body you didn’t think you’d be able to in the circumstances.
Bring Aboard Whatever Exercise Equipment You Can
If exercise equipment is important to your workout routine then you might find you need to make a few adjustments to make bringing equipment on board practical.
A suspension trainer is literally just a couple of straps with handles that you use in a variety of different positions all of which involve suspending your own body weight and resisting against your weight to build strength.
Because this piece of equipment is so lightweight and folds up so small you can stow it aboard your boat without it getting in the way of anything, but at the same time if you have a mast or well placed grab handle then you can attach your suspension trainer to it, and perform your exercises on the aft deck of the boat.
Beyond that I wouldn’t personally bring other items such as weights, because they’re heavy and bulky and not really necessary unless you’re into serious weight training. Obviously a Yoga mat is worth having for a whole range of exercises, and they neither weight much nor take up too much space.
Your Own Body Weight is Your Friend!
Resistance training is probably more important than anaerobic (cardio) but again this doesn’t mean you need to have a whole lot of special equipment to do it.
Your own body weight is the ideal weight to resist against, in fact I remember always being taught that resisting your own body weight was unlikely to result in injury, being the more ‘natural’ form of exercise that it is.
Sit ups, squats, and push ups, none of them require any more room than the length and width of your body to do, so even the deck of the smallest boat will provide enough room to do them effectively.
Knowing that you’re not feasible going to to be able to run long distances on board your boat, even if you own a superyacht, one way to maximise the benefit of your exercise output is to adopt HIIT methodology. HIIT stands for ‘High Intensity Interval Training’, and the general theory behind it is to do short high intensity burst of exercise, which is almost as beneficial, if not just as beneficial as other forms of cardio.
HIIT regimes tend to involve several high intensity bursts (typically between 30 and 50 seconds) of cardio exercise in between rest periods, with the whole routine lasting between 20 minutes and half an hour. On board a boat this can be as simple as running on the spot as fast as you possibly can, doing other exercises such as push ups or sit ups at a faster pace, or if you’ve got the space for an exercise bike you can do some high intensity spinning.
The other advantage of HIIT is that it doesn’t take up too much time, when you’re living in close confines with other people on board a boat you don’t want to make a nuisance of yourself by getting in the way of critical parts of the boat doing your exercises all day.
Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi
If HIIT training doesn’t suit your tastes and you’ve got a decent bit of space that allows you to exercise for longer periods of time, then why not try taking up controlled movement based exercises such as Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. Although very different both in their origins and philosophy, all of these exercises focus on both mental or spiritual health and physical exercise and strength.
Whilst Pilates can involve the use of various apparatus, all 3 forms of exercise in general only require enough room to stand and lay down, making them ideal to practice in a limited area such as the deck of a small boat.
Swim Whenever Possible!
Whilst it won’t always be possible or desirable to swim in the sea, whenever you’re moored in warmer climes this should be your number one exercise of choice. Swimming works out the whole body, it’s both cardio and resistance training all in one, and as we all know it’s a great way to work up an appetite.
Of course it’s important to remember that swimming in the sea isn’t like swimming in a pool, there are rip currents and other hazard to be aware of, so it’s important to research the local conditions before you head in for a dip, and being a strong swimmer is also imperative.
If you’re not into swimming you can still stay fit on the water if you’ve got a kayak or paddle board, but these are of course bulky items that you’ll need to factor into your inventory.
Make Use of Exercising on Dry Land When You Come Ashore
If you’re island hopping or making anchor every few days or so be sure to take advantage of being on solid ground and head out for a proper run.
Likewise keep your tennis rackets on board should the opportunity to use a local tennis centre wherever you might find yourself.
Get Plenty of Good Rest
If you’re spending days at a time at sea and you’re not used to it, there’s a risk you won’t sleep as well as you would do normally, and as we know when you get tired you tend to overeat to compensate. Couple a poor, calorie rich diet with lack of exercise and you’ve got a recipe for feeling pretty lousy in the short term, and poor health in the long term.
If motion sickness is keeping you awake at night then over the counter medication can be just the ticket. Incidentally many motion sickness pills are known to cause drowsiness as a side effect, which will actually be beneficial in this instance.