Prolonged ocean voyages constrain the regular physical activity and sleep patterns of seafarers. However, there is a lack of information on seafarers' physical activity and sleep behavior. The purpose of this study was to systematically examine physical activity and sleep patterns among seafarers using a single wrist-worn accelerometer. Fifty-one senior maritime students (mean age = 22.8 years; 80.0% male) in a university navigation department participated in the study. Data were collected from participants on three sea voyages in the Asia-Pacific region. Indicators of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and sleep patterns were compared between several conditions: (1) moored versus sailing, (2) on-navigation duty and off- navigation duty, and (3) day versus night navigation duty. Regardless of conditions, low levels of physical activity and short sleep durations were observed. Independent sample t-tests revealed that time spent doing MVPA was significantly higher when participants were off-duty than when they were on-duty (p < 0.001). Physical activity did not significantly differ between the other two conditions. While total sleep duration was not significantly different between mooring and sailing, the results showed that participants awakened more frequently (p = 0.007) and their sleep was more restless (p < 0.001) while sailing. The results demonstrated that developing effective programs to promote physical activity should be a public health priority for the seafaring population, and serious consideration is required to mitigate sleep disruption during sailing.
Keywords: physical activity; physical health; seafarer population; sleep pattern; wearable sensor.