Healthy Lifestyle Aboard a Ship

Living inside a military ship is tough. Not only are the leisure time activities limited, in fact, most of the day is spent working ridiculous hours for minimum wage. Food variety is also limited, and the healthy options available can at times feel underwhelming. However, even worse is the fact that at times it feels like the leadership onboard is actively trying to discourage healthy living by giving members barely any time to work on themselves or even exercise. Certainly, mixing all of the aforementioned aspects sounds like a disaster and it truly is one. But, what are sailors to do in order to stay healthy? How can they remain youthful and strong if the least amount of time off they receive is spent catching up on all the sleep they’ve missed? Even worse is the fact that The Navy itself does not seem to figure out the discrepancy between what it promotes and what actually happens…

Active duty sailors will spend a substantial part of their careers underway in the oceans. But, while they’re underway their working hours increase exponentially leaving more than a small part of the crew with enough time to work out or exercise regularly. This is a major reason why sailors can be out of shape, but another is the lack of motivation to exercise as days on the ship appear to drag on endlessly without much motivation to go to sleep, work, rinse and repeat. Furthermore, the lack of healthy eating habits can affect sailors as many will attest to their diets of junk food, and energy drinks to stay awake with the lack of sleep provided for them. This “diet” often leaves sailors overweight or underweight and with a lack of energy despite what the “energy drinks” advertise. However, while The Navy does promote active/healthy lifestyles the message often falls on deaf ears.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Brossard (Released)

Promoting better lifestyles actually requires a better effort of policy control in the military. Unlike the other branches of the military that have a focus on physical readiness; in the Navy, it is often neglected or falls by the wayside due to job demands. The Navy (especially on ships) only truly expects sailors to do their job and follow instructions. The regulations state a member is allowed up to 150 minutes of exercise a week, but for those of you who understand the math, they’ll know that amounts to less than three hours. The allotment is also not something that a few chains of commands encourage or even openly advertise. On the other hand of the spectrum are a few leaders who instead of trusting their members to use their gym time appropriately simply mandate group PT without taking into consideration the levels of fitness each member exhibits.

For one, it’s rather easy to demoralize a fit person by forcing them to keep up with a group who isn’t nearly on their level. But, on the other side of that coin, the fact that a person is barely breaking a sweat to the same exercises that are killing a sailor with a lower fitness level can have a similar negative consequence for them. It’s a paradoxical situation, but it’s one that exists and has no clear answer for certain. What’s The Navy to do when it seems that all answer have pitfalls on every corner? It’s difficult to truly answer that question…

Large scale policy changes require time and research to implement properly. Abrupt changes aren’t easily welcome and with the current manning available the sailors aren’t truly disposable enough to give time to exercise. It’s a lose-lose scenario as time off on the ship barely exists at the current level and unless a surge in sailors appears out of nowhere the amount they have now is barely enough. But, one thing stands true… The Navy can’t continue promoting healthy lifestyles while simultaneously demanding so much from their members.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Emmanuel "Dash the Bomber" Barbosa

Emmanuel Barbosa, AKA Dash The Bomber, is currently serving in the 7th fleet, and has over 8 years of experience in the military. A writer with a penchant for the humorous and informative, he loves to share his stories with those who would be willing to listen. Having served in deployments that have taken him around the world, Dash has seen and heard about many things that would be hard to believe. A loving father and a faithful husband, he is dedicated to protecting his family and country. For fun he enjoys cosplaying, videogames, and writing for online magazines.

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