Cardio on the High Seas: Running and Swimming
Cardio on the High Seas: Running and Swimming

Maintaining your health and fitness while sailing is crucial for the success of your voyage. Discover how to incorporate running and swimming into your sailing lifestyle.

Cardio on the High Seas: Running and Swimming

Ahoy, adventurous sailors! As you embark on your journey to explore the world with your family, it’s essential to maintain your health and fitness while at sea. Staying fit while sailing can be challenging, but it’s crucial for your overall well-being and the success of your voyage. In this article, we’ll focus on two popular cardio exercises: running and swimming. We’ll discuss the benefits of these activities, how to incorporate them into your sailing lifestyle, and tips for staying safe while exercising at sea.

The Importance of Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio, is any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing for an extended period. It’s essential for maintaining a healthy heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Regular cardio exercise can help:

  • Improve your endurance and stamina
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic illnesses
  • Boost your mood and mental health
  • Maintain a healthy weight

While sailing, you’ll likely engage in various physical activities, such as hoisting sails, climbing, and swimming. However, it’s essential to incorporate dedicated cardio workouts into your routine to ensure you’re getting the full benefits of cardiovascular exercise.

Running on a Boat: Challenges and Solutions

Running is a popular and accessible form of cardio exercise, but it can be challenging to do on a boat. Here are some common obstacles and solutions for running while sailing:

Limited Space

The most obvious challenge of running on a boat is the limited space. However, there are several ways to work around this issue:

  • Treadmill: If your boat has enough space and power, consider investing in a compact, foldable treadmill. This allows you to run in place without needing a large area to move around.
  • On-deck laps: If your boat has a spacious deck, you can run laps around it. This may not be as satisfying as running on land, but it’s an excellent way to get your heart rate up and enjoy the fresh sea air.
  • Interval training: If space is limited, try incorporating interval training into your routine. This involves alternating between short bursts of high-intensity exercise (such as running in place or jumping jacks) and periods of rest or lower-intensity activity.

Unstable Surface

A boat’s rocking motion can make running more challenging and increase the risk of injury. To minimize this risk:

  • Choose a time to run when the boat is relatively stable, such as when it’s anchored or moored.
  • Wear proper footwear with non-slip soles to improve traction on the deck.
  • Focus on maintaining good form and balance while running, and avoid overstriding or making sudden movements.

Weather Conditions

Running on a boat means you’ll be exposed to the elements, which can be both a blessing and a curse. To stay safe and comfortable while running in various weather conditions:

  • Wear appropriate clothing, such as moisture-wicking fabrics, sun protection, and layers for colder temperatures.
  • Stay hydrated, especially in hot or humid conditions.
  • Be mindful of slippery surfaces after rain or dew and adjust your running technique accordingly.

Swimming for Cardio at Sea

Swimming is another excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that’s well-suited to the sailing lifestyle. It’s a low-impact, full-body workout that can help improve your strength, flexibility, and endurance. Here are some tips for incorporating swimming into your fitness routine while at sea:

Choose the Right Location

When selecting a spot to swim, consider the following factors:

  • Water depth: Ensure the water is deep enough for swimming without touching the bottom.
  • Currents and tides: Be aware of any strong currents or tidal changes that could make swimming more challenging or dangerous.
  • Marine life: Be mindful of any potentially harmful marine life in the area, such as jellyfish or sharks.

Safety First

Swimming in open water can be more challenging and risky than swimming in a pool. Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Always swim with a buddy or have someone on the boat keeping an eye on you.
  • Wear a brightly colored swim cap or use a swim buoy to increase your visibility to other boaters.
  • Consider using a tether or swim line attached to the boat to help you stay close and avoid drifting too far away.
  • Be aware of your limits and don’t push yourself too hard, especially in challenging conditions.

Swimming Workouts

To get the most out of your swimming sessions, try incorporating different types of workouts:

  • Endurance swims: Focus on swimming at a steady pace for an extended period, gradually increasing your distance and time as your fitness improves.
  • Interval training: Alternate between periods of high-intensity swimming (such as sprinting or swimming with resistance) and periods of rest or lower-intensity swimming.
  • Drills: Practice specific swimming techniques or strokes to improve your form and efficiency in the water.

Staying Motivated and Consistent

One of the biggest challenges of maintaining a fitness routine while sailing is staying motivated and consistent. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

  • Set realistic goals for your fitness and track your progress over time.
  • Create a workout schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even when you’re busy or tired.
  • Mix up your workouts to keep things interesting and prevent boredom.
  • Involve your family in your fitness routine, making it a fun and bonding experience for everyone on board.


Staying fit while sailing is essential for your health, well-being, and the success of your voyage. Running and swimming are two excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise that can be adapted to the unique challenges of life at sea. By incorporating these activities into your routine, staying safe, and remaining consistent, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the freedom and fulfillment of a healthy sailing lifestyle. Fair winds and smooth seas, fellow sailors!