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Old 24-08-2006, 05:52   #1
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Cruising-a healthier lifestyle?

It seems as though our "modern" lifestyle contributes to a lot of health issues, especially as we get older. Diabetes, heart problems, cancer, and a host of other conditions are being linked more and more to high stress levels and toxins in our cities and urban environments.

As cruisers, when we cast off the dock lines and sail into an alternative lifestyle, it would seem we would benefit healthwise from getting away from the rat race.

Have you noticed any positives changes in your personal health? Any insights you'd care to share? Anything you can track that tends to show the cruising lifestyle is healthier than some others?

Let's hear how you're feeling "out there"....

Fair winds,


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Old 24-08-2006, 08:03   #2
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I can't say just yet, but this aspect is one of the big points which attracts me to cruising. The only downside I could think of is if you did alot of your own work on the boat, including bottom paint, epoxy, and all the other nasty chemicals which come along with boat building and repair.

Or if you decided you wanted to cruise in big heavily polluted cities for some reason.

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Old 24-08-2006, 08:20   #3
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I don't think living aboard is particularly healthful unless you make an effort to exercise. Aside from some winch grinding and sail hoisting and the occasional dinghy rowing it is pretty much a lay about existence.

On the other hand you are exposed to exhaust fumes, chemicals and so forth... even teak is rather poisonous! This applies to the DIYer which most cruisers are! Live aboard on the hard in a boat yard anyone?

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Old 24-08-2006, 08:48   #4

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I noticed what Jef talks about. First, while re-fitting the vessel for 9 mos, I was in the best shape of my life. I could pick up and move a 200lbs genset like it was nothing. I had no body fat and lots of muscle tone. Of course, I was breathing sawdust, methylene chloride, pvc-type fumes, etc... etc... So there was a tradeoff.

Now that the work is done, it's a lazy man's life. I get less exercise now than I did living ashore. We strive to find time to go ashore and exercise. We go snorkeling as much as possible to try and work the legs. It's the legs that go bad living aboard a boat. You need to get off the thing and exercise them, or they'll turn into toothpicks (or hams, depending on metabolism).

There is also a dire lack of cardio while living on a boat. You get to turn some winches, or haul up an anchor with a manual windlass, or wrestle your dinghy motor down to the tender, but you don't get the same type of cardio you'd get walking a few miles or rididng a bike for the day.

We are still trying to to find a nice balance where we can get more exercise. About the only good thing about our choice to winter over and work this year to pay off the boat is that we'll be able to go x-country skiing and stuff like that to get into better shape.
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Old 24-08-2006, 09:11   #5
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The Admiral and I worked hard to maintain an exercise regimen while cruising the last two years. It was a little difficult because the Caribbean is so much warmer than Canada. Still, we got ashore almost every day, and we walked somewhere. We have been up the trails towards volcanos and lookouts, through every town we came near, around smaller islands, up and around every fort we could find, and through many museums. We have swam around snorkelling areas, from boat-to-boat, and swimming around just for exercise. We also found the many shore chores were good exercise anyway. Those of us who have been out there knows that just getting groceries and parts to the boat is good exercise and takes up significant pieces of time. We do not rent cars, so we get much more exercise.

Embarrassingly, our problem, if we have one, is the amount of beverage we consume. We do not know if the problem is the booze, or worrying about it. Might as well stop worrying about it to cut down the damage, though, as we are not likely to cut back too far.
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Old 24-08-2006, 09:43   #6
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Sono: As Willie Nelson says "There 're more old drunks than there r old doctors so I think I'll have another round" LOL

I read a post somewhere that after quitting his job and crusing for a year a fellow and his wife were able to get off their heart meds and I think their Cholesterol was almost low enough not to worry about anymore. I know my life has me stressed and when I cut loose the anchor lines there will be a big sense of relief.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 24-08-2006, 13:35   #7
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After moving aboard in May and now cruising for the last 4 months. I have dropped a good 20+ lbs, no stress, walking every day [have to take the dog out], been riding the bike more in the last 2 months than the prevous 2's all what you make it. If you go out and explore while cruising even when sitting in an anchorage plenty of exercise to be had.

If you just sit and drink... well I like that too....
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Old 24-08-2006, 14:22   #8
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We found that we were sick less often and in much better shapre physically. By default alot of junk food was removed from our diets. We walked and swam more without having to work at it. Just sailing and moving around the boat works an amazing number of muscles that you didn't you had before you left.

The fresh air was a major plus, getting away from AC did a lot to improve lung capacity, and on, on.....

Many of the cruisers we met also said they were much healthy. part of it was not having a regualr doctor to go and insurance to pay for it. So little things like cold were just that, small bumps and bruises didn't require a trip to the emergency room because we have one near very often.

Working on your boat while cruising requires the same care and safety precasutions as working on it home. Professionals do it for a life time, so just use dust masks or filtered breathers (we carry both), use the correct clothing, and tools and all jobs will be safer.
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Old 24-08-2006, 15:47   #9

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You know, there are a few benefits I didn't mention that other did, and I wanted to make sure to add that....

I did used to have high blood pressure. Sodium and stress seem to have caused it. I have had a bit too much sodium lately, but without the stress, the blood pressure never went back up. That's directly attributable to living aboard and actively cruising.

Also, as Bill from sv Makai says, air conditioning is terrible. I'm not sure why, but once you abandon it for good, you feel a lot better. You also stay moist, and don't need moisturizers, etc...

And I agree that bumps and bruises don't need emergency treatment. I'm write with a broken pinkie toe (AGAIN!!) right now. ha ha ha

We also use serious respirator-style masks, etc... and don't take chances. Thing is... when the work is done, you still have to live there, so I did end up breathing some more methyl chloride than I would have hoped to.

We also were in pretty decent shape and never ate junk food before living aboard. I'm 165lbs (5'10") and my wife is about 100lbs (5'1"). We've been the same weight since before we moved aboard, so that didn't change. Our upper bodies developed much more muscle, but the lower does take a lot of work to keep up. It's just a lot more sitting than we used to do on land... especially long passages.
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Old 24-08-2006, 16:11   #10
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Interesting discussion. I am also concerned about keeping up with some cardio exercise while on longer passages. I seem to recall that someone talked about hooking up a generator to a stationary bike on their boat. Seems like a great solution: put some resistance on the bike, boost the heart rate, and recharge the batteries! Anybody done this, or recall the discussion or link?

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Old 25-08-2006, 01:17   #11
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How did you come to ”...end up breathing some more methyl chloride than I would have hoped...”?
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Old 25-08-2006, 03:01   #12
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Principal uses of Methylene chloride: pharmaceuticals, chemical processing, aerosols, food extraction, urethane foam blowing and surface treatment including paint stripping;
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Old 25-08-2006, 04:22   #13
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Also forgot to mention: although we had real stress getting south, from the outfitting and the sailing, we have not had even colds for two years.
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Old 25-08-2006, 05:31   #14
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We are definitely healthier when we are cruising. We have each gained weight since we got home from our winter cruise the end May. It's too easy to run into town for barbecue and hush puppies. Our marina friends meet once a week for Mexican food in town, right next to the Dairy Queen. You get the picture.

On the boat our meal portions are smaller - we prepare one dish to last for two meals - so there isn't much in the way of second helpings, we eat healthy home made muffins for many breakfasts, and no ice cream before bedtime.

There is plenty of exercise at home - boat and house and garden tasks, but I think we get more exercise while cruising - taking the dog ashore twice a day when we can, schlepping groceries and laundry, walking the towns and beaches, boat work inside and out, dinghy launching (no davits), and don't forget sweating - surely that must burn some calories!

We still get flu shots, and we haven't had a cold or flu in several years.

Last year we learned Tai Chi and thought it would be a good cruising activity, but that didn't happen much. Sunspot Baby has a hard foredeck, but still not enough room for Tai Chi. On the beach would be nice but we usually have a rowdy dog in tow. Chi Gong, another form, is more stationary...might try that.

Wine is supposed to be healthy, and we drank about 87 litres of wine in 6 months, which works out to about 1/2 litre a day for the two of us. But what can I say? I miscalculated in the provisioning and we ran out. Good thing we had lots of rum.

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Old 25-08-2006, 07:12   #15
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Originally Posted by Sonosailor
Embarrassingly, our problem, if we have one, is the amount of beverage we consume.
as Bruce Van Sant said in Passages South: never pass up the opportunity for a sundown gin and tonic

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