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Old 04-02-2008, 10:05   #1
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Physical fitness while cruising

Yves-Louis Pinaud in his book Sailing from Start to Finish has a chapter entitled Physical Fitness in Racing. This is the time of year when I start to seek out such reading. Unfortunately, many of Pinaud's recommended exercises require a gym.

I have one exercise that I try to do each morning to strengthen my lower back. It's called the "dead bug" and was suggested to me by my physical therapist. I can do it lying on the cockpit sole of my boat.

Can anyone recommend a good discussion of other such exercises that one can do to stay fit while cruising?

David
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Old 08-02-2008, 20:18   #2
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I will jump in, as this is something of a bugaboo for me. In 2005, after years of sloth and gluttony, I lost 110 lbs. through diet and exercise, dropped to my ideal body weight, and have remained there since. I therefore never pass up on an opportunity to share my thoughts on this topic.

A few things come to mind.

One way of dividing exercise, in general, is into cardiovascular and muscle-development programs. The CV stuff -- running, swimming, cycling, or anything that prompts a sustained and elevated heart rate -- can be done on even a small boat. If you can safely swim, do that. If you spend a lot of time tied up, running along the beach or the sidewalks is great at building CV function and burning excess calories (just be careful not to try a high-impact regimen if you're already in really bad shape, since you can cause plenty of joint damage). If you spend a lot of time passagemaking or on the hook, do you have space for a small treadmill or stairclimber? You can even buy or build inexpensive and very compact treadmills that will serve the purpose without drawing power or completely occupying a quarterberth. And don't get me started on cycling or even sea kayaking.

For the muscle-development exercises, just remember ... in the military, most required exercise is done with body weight alone; there's no need to make things more complicated than they need to be. Never, never, never underestimate the power of simple push-ups, pull-ups, or sit-ups. A basic set of free weights (100 lbs.) can be had, new off the shelf, for less than $70 if you feel the need, and there's plenty of material online about proper form and various routines.

Balance and flexibility training should be included in any exercise program. Simple stretches can sometimes suffice, but if you have the time, money, and inclination, learning the basics of yoga can be great. I am a martial artist; spending a few minutes doing my normal karate exercises and practicing kata helps, too. If there's a sport that you enjoy, you can tailor your workouts to that as a way of keeping motivated.

As with all things related to health, it would be prudent to speak to your physician, or to a trusted medical professional, before designing and beginning any major exercise program.

Hope this helps!
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Old 09-02-2008, 06:16   #3
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This sounds too simple . . . how about ditching the outboard and rowing? You can get a very nice rowing dingy with a sliding seat that will work your arms, legs, and back, and using these large muscle groups will also deliver a non impact cardio vascular workout as well. AND, it looks beautiful!

Heritage 12 Yacht Tender

Expensive, yes, but will last a lifetime. Has a 560 pound capacity and will take an outboard when needed. DESIGNED TO ROW, so it will really move through the water. NO, I don't own stock, but am a real fan of rowing.
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Old 09-02-2008, 06:58   #4
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You don't get enough exercise living in a small boat. No walking, running or aerobics. Healthy in some ways, but not for cardio fitness. That's a real problem.
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Old 09-02-2008, 16:59   #5
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Masts and makiwaras

I agree with defjef. It is especially hard to get the cv workout.

Has anyone used mast steps for "stair-climbing" exercises?

Waterworldly has it right about rowing...or paddling a kayak... for upper body and CV workout.

J9gilik, I'd fall overboard if I tried my kata on deck, but I can envision putting up a makiwara somewhere for a knuckle-toughening CV workout. I don't think I'll carry a set a free weights, but maybe two 15 kg anchors on a long oar?
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Old 09-02-2008, 17:52   #6
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Hit the deck and give me 100 push ups and then tell me there is no cardio element to that workout when you are done. The same can be said for jumping jacks, leg thrusts, squats, the list is endless. CV exercise comes from high repetitions of the same or similar exercises. Walking, running, swimming and the like are the same strokes over and over and over .......... ad infinitum.
A couple of pulleys rigged from the mast or arch can produce machines that would put Golds Gym to shame. The workout is there if you want to pursue it.
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Old 09-02-2008, 18:04   #7
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Don't know what kind of cruising you all do. We find that we swim, walk many miles a day sometimes, climb to the top of ancient Mayan ruins, hike up hills, walk miles to get groceries, raise and lower sails, sometimes over and over, climb in and out of the dinghy sometimes pulling ourselves up over seawalls, fixed docks, Dive, clean the boat bottom with a snorkle sometimes and sometimes with tanks, wash down the boat, haul the anchor up and down and up and down, man I am getting tired just typing this. We are typically in better shape once our cruising starts than at any other time. If I had to add an excersizing program to all of this it would probably kill me.
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Old 09-02-2008, 18:46   #8
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Hit the deck and give me 100 push ups
Then roll over and give me 80 sit ups.... You have two minutes. Begin.

Wow, I haven't had that flashback since the Marines.
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Old 09-02-2008, 19:31   #9
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Stairstep workout in virtually every boat: companionway steps. . . .
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Old 09-02-2008, 20:03   #10
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so, mahana, how about a description of the dead bug exercise?
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Old 09-02-2008, 20:37   #11
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so, mahana, how about a description of the dead bug exercise?

Yes, I'd like to know what that is as well.
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Old 09-02-2008, 21:35   #12
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We also keep ourselfs in shape the same way as you do, I would have thought all cruisers were simalur in this regard.
I will ad we also do yoga & swimming
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Old 10-02-2008, 13:49   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahana View Post
J9gilik, I'd fall overboard if I tried my kata on deck, but I can envision putting up a makiwara somewhere for a knuckle-toughening CV workout. I don't think I'll carry a set a free weights, but maybe two 15 kg anchors on a long oar?
Perhaps you can put a single 1x20' plank off the transom and at least do sanchin. Performed to Okinawan perfection, you don't need any more space than that!

Come to think of it, even a bladder of water suspended fitted through a block off the mast might work for speed-bag drills or something.

There's no end to the creativity for staying healthy even on a very tiny boat.
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Old 10-02-2008, 15:09   #14
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You don't get enough exercise living in a small boat. No walking, running or aerobics. Healthy in some ways, but not for cardio fitness. That's a real problem.
DefJef makes a good point here. One way to get that cardio exercise you need is to keep a pair of running shoes aboard and go running from time to time (or on a sandy beach if you are lucky enough).

Another way is to "double up" your strength training.

If you're not trying to look like some kind of puffy-muscled steroid guy, you can simply do your strength training exercises very quickly (as was also suggested above by Jentine). Do 100 push ups as fast as humanly possibly and see if you get out of breath or not.

Gyms are one of the modern world's big scams. Everything you need to stay in shape could be done inside even a small prison cell (or boat on a rainy day - almost the same thing! ha ha) No special devices or tools are necessary.
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Old 10-02-2008, 20:20   #15
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mahana

let me know what planet you're from so I can translate what you're saying,thanks Eric 58
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