Seafarers, Fitness and Exercise

There is a growing problem at sea, and it is expanding as rapidly as some seafarer’s waistbands. While crew sizes are getting smaller, it seems that too many crew are themselves getting bigger. Obesity is taking a hold at sea, and it is a serious issue indeed.

Studies have shown that offshore workers have ballooned in weight by 20% over the past 30 years’, a pattern that seems to be repeated on other ship types. In another recent study, it was shown that three quarters of Danish seafarers were found to be overweight… while data from ship managers suggests that as many as 10% of all Filipino seafarers are either obese or border line before heading to sea.


Seafarers are snacking more and they are consuming huge amounts of calories, while poor food, bad cooking techniques and a thirst for soft drinks are taking their toll on health, wellbeing and even safety.

Staying fit is really a key element of being a seafarer – but unfortunately, studies of seafarers’ health have found some consistent negative trends. Those at sea tend to smoke more, drink more and take less exercise. Not surprisingly, their health is less good than the general population.

Add in other lifestyle factors, such as higher than average stress levels, the quality of sleep at sea and the importance of maintaining good health while at sea becomes more important.

The benefits of exercise and keeping fit are huge. Exercise not only makes you physically and mentally stronger, but it brings massive emotional and psychological benefits too. People who exercise are more balanced and experience less stress. They are able to keep weight under control, their digestion improves, blood sugar stabilises, sleep improves, as does concentration and self-confidence.


Seafarers recognise this and are desperate to be able to exercise and to get fit. So it is vitally important that resources, time, money and innovation are expended in finding the right answers to this question. Unfortunately there are often barriers to exercise, it takes time, it is often a case that seafarers are simply exhausted after their watches or work, and relentless demands mean some crew find it hard to get time to exercise.

Many of those who responded stated that they wanted to exercise but found it very hard to either get the time, or sometimes the motivation. So it seems we need to do more to encourage and to facilitate exercise, and of course to ensure that food is healthy and nutritious at sea.

With seafaring becoming an increasingly sedentary pursuit – it is also vitally important that crews are not over fed on junk food and soft drinks. There is a requirement and indeed a need to provide good nutrition, and to understand the impact on health and wellbeing.

#28Days #Seafarers #Shipping Also check out the Mission to Seafarers website to learn more that the charity does to address many of the issues raised across these challenges facing shipping.

The Seafarers Happiness Index needs the support of those at sea, and of the shipping industry. So if you would like to be a part of driving positive debate and change – complete the survey or share your thoughts with us.

Back To News

Take the survey

Take the Seafarers Happiness Index survey now - and share your thoughts on life at sea today.

Get started now