Frequently asked questions

My work is already very physical...

Climbing stairs and doing tasks all day that use lifting or pulling may feel like physical exercise.  But, although these activities help you stay active, it is still very important that you also practice specific skills and train key muscles to maintain them at the right level.

Focused exercise for your endurance (aerobic exercise), strength, and flexibility can help maintain your body (and your mind) in optimum condition.

Did you know...After age 30 you can lose up to 3-5% of your muscle mass each decade if you are not physically active.
Resistance exercise or working out with weights 2-3 times per week can help prevent this loss and reduce the risk of functional disability, falls and poor quality of life.


I don't have time to exercise...

A little goes a long way.

Even 10  - 15 minutes of focused exercise can have a positive effect on health and wellbeing.  If you do not have gym facilities for exercise onboard, feel exhausted after your watches or work, or find it hard to ‘make time’ when you are facing high demands, you can still do it!

In fact, it is better to start small even if you feel the exercise is too easy – it will make your goals achievable – you can then build up gradually. This will encourage you stick to your commitment and help you maintain a positive mindset.

We will show you some simple exercises later in this programme, that you can easily do in a short period of time and without the need for equipment or much space.

Did you know...Harvard University researchers recently noted that as little as 15 minutes of focused physical activity a day can boost your life span by three years.


Is exercise really that important?

Yes!  There are so many ways that exercise can improve your life.

Because your physical body and your mental health are connected, regular focused physical activity can boost your wellbeing and make you feel better.  It can also help you cope with the challenges of daily life at sea and ashore.

Working out regularly produces ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the body which can help with long- term happiness and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.  Even a short, 10-minute, activity can improve your mental alertness, energy and positive mood.  It can also boost your mental health by making you feel more relaxed and increasing your confidence.

Some other benefits of regular exercise can include:

  • reduces weight
  • improves body shape
  • improves blood circulation
  • lowers blood pressure
  • prevents diabetes
  • improves cholesterol
  • increases muscle strength
  • makes your heart stronger
  • improves sleep quality
  • improves energy levels

Did you know...not exercising may increase your risk of premature death more than cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even smoking.


How does exercise help you stay safe at work?

Exercise can help you be safer and perform better at work by keeping your body fit and improving your thinking, learning, and judgment skills.  For example, it:

  • improves concentration
  • improves memory
  • improves self-confidence
  • helps you
    • move around more easily
    • feel less tired
    • recover faster


Other added benefits...

Exercise helps keep your body young!

Exercising with other people or setting exercise challenges onboard can also help crewmates have fun together and build better relationships as a result – stay strong together on board!

Your body can become more agile (able to move more quickly and easily) through exercise and strength training, which could improve your balance and help prevent falls and other injuries.

Did you and women in their 70s who exercise regularly have the heart, lung and muscle fitness of healthy people 30 years younger.


Where should I start?

Acknowledge the barriers

Exercise is great for your body and mind, but it can be hard to get started if there are things standing in your way, from the amount of work you have to get done first, onboard facilities available, or how fit and active you are to start with.

Take control

Focus on what you can do not what you can’t: choose short, simple, easy exercises that do not need equipment or much space; if you can, pick a set time to exercise that will usually fit in around work and stick to it as much as possible.

Start small

10-15 minutes at a time is a good start (this does not include the physical activity you already do for work)and then slowly build up.  Plan when you are going to exercise and be consistent. Set yourself goals and track progress. 

Goals are easier to reach when they are:

  • Specific rather than general (e.g. “I will run for 10 minutes at 14.00 three times a week” NOT “I will go for a run this week”)
  • Challenging but achievable (e.g. “I want to work out three times a week for 15 mins” NOT “I will spend one hour working out every day”)
  • Divided into short-term mini-goals e.g.
    • Every day in January and February I will wake up 10 minutes earlier to exercise for 5-10 minutes.”
    • Every day in March and April I will wake up 15 minutes earlier to exercise for 15-20 minutes.”

Keep going!

You may find a routine that you are able to do for a while (e.g. 30 mins per day after watch) and then because of a change in your work schedule you start missing days and eventually feel like stopping.  Although it may seem hard to keep going, focus on what you can still do, for a shorter period, at a different time or perhaps not every day.  Just don’t give up!