Healthy living on holiday means something different for septuagenarians, according to UQHL client Bill Brosnan who recently cruised the Dutch canals and rivers with wife Sandra on their beloved boat “True Blue VI”. We asked Bill how he maintains his health while adventuring on land or sea now that travel is back on the agenda for many over 50s.

“Our requirements differ from those we addressed as a pair of 30 year-olds.” Bill says, “Generally, we try to maintain a reasonable level of fitness which we think, plays an important role in keeping us both healthy.”

As the world recovers from the pandemic, travelling in 2022 also prompts extra precautions to avoid bringing home any unwanted souvenirs.

“In the current COVID environment, we pay close attention to personal hygiene, wearing masks in many situations. We are fully vaccinated for both COVID and flu strains.  Likewise, we ensure that we carry sufficient medication, both prescribed and general to last the distance. We keep our fluid levels up and will use bottled water if the supply is suspect.”

Bill admits maintaining a regular exercise regime on their boat is not easy. However, he and Sandra  managed to combine various types of movement both incidental and prescribed (on and off the water), and upon returning to the gym post-holiday, found their fitness levels had not declined significantly.

“Guests sometimes imagine canal boating as reclining in deckchairs with a margarita in hand. However, Sandra and I are up early, with the first up setting the table for breakfast and making a cuppa for the other. Post breakfast, the normal household chores and preparation for the day’s voyage begins. Engine checks, bilges checks, safety checks weather checks and so on. Following check fatigue, getting under way involves casting off, adjusting fenders, manoeuvring out from our mooring, tidying the decks, checking the course … And all the while, continuously moving around the vessel, rolling, pitching or yawing. And while these motions are usually mild, they cause the crew to be constantly moving to compensate.”

In addition to the activity required to manage the vessel, Bill performed exercises prescribed by his UQHL clinician prior to departure, made easier by instructional videos they had filmed together in consult.

“By combining the exercises with plenty of walks and cycle trips, to maintain a satisfactory level of fitness. The bands and sliders used for the exercise regime are now part of our travel kit.”

And while holidays are often an opportunity to try new foods and relax eating habits, it’s too much of that indulgent cuisine or low nutrient, convenience snacks eaten in transit that can leave us feeling less than our best. However, it seems Bill and Sandra managed to enjoy local fare without neglecting their dietary requirements.

“I am fortunate to have married a woman who loves cooking. Sandy enjoys the challenge of creating delicious and healthy meals wherever we roam. While the written labels can cause problems, most Dutch people are fluent in English and are happy to translate. Of course, the many farmer’s markets also provide a huge variety of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. This wonderful bounty allows Sandy to ensure that the crew’s diet is a judicious blend of the nutritious and the decadent.”

It’s been 45 years together for Bill and Sandra, during which it sounds as though they have mastered the art of a balanced, healthy holiday without sacrificing pleasure or adventure.

“We jokingly say that all the sharp corners have been rubbed smooth. Having complementary skills does help. Our personal credo is: Sandy can see where we’re going, but Bill knows where we’re at.

This applies in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. It helps us to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the external stimuli that travel brings. Combining this with good nutrition and high levels of fitness seems to be a winning cocktail.”


Bill’s top three things to always take on holiday:

1. A realistic attitude.
At our age, an unexpected health crisis could occur at any time.

2. A fall-back option
“Plan for the worst, hope for the best” is always included in our planning.

3. An inquiring mind.
There is so much to learn in every destination whether it’s history, society, architecture, governance. We soak it up, just like a sponge.




Was this article interesting/ helpful?

  1. Yes it is very helpful as my brother Tony & his wife Lesley have just taken over from Bill & Sandra on True Blue VI as they are also part owners. The photos they send back are stunning and great reports of the friendliness and helpfulness of the Dutch people.
    I’m hanging out for an invitation when their turn comes around again in 2 years.
    Fiona Enevoldsen

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