Scuba Diving Fitness
Yawn… stretch…. “yeah whatever” I hear you say. This blog is a must for those of you keen to make the most of your dives – eager to improve your air consumption and dare I say it – your buoyancy too. Hands up if you consider yourself “lardy” and keen to do something about it?? Are you eager to make the most of your dives and look and feel better in your wetsuit? “That’s just vanity” – I’ve heard all the excuses before so stop telling yourself those feel better stories and read this blog. A few small changes to your lifestyle will make a huge difference. It all begins with a decision – your decision to change one or two of your ways.
Of course, the more you dive, the better a diver you will become. You can spend the time improving your buoyancy control and trim, you will maintain your depth while swimming and stopping, you will read the currents and surge better. Naturally, your air consumption will decrease the more “at one” you are with the underwater world. However, you can concurrently take several steps to accelerate this natural process of learning. Your diving does improve the more you do it – but don’t expect massive changes, unless you improve your fitness and make better choices regarding what you put in your mouth throughout the day.
Let’s start with your fitness.
If any part of the following is what you’ve experienced then your fitness needs attention urgently. You’ve done your Open Water scuba diving course perhaps Advanced Open Water and squeezing into your wetsuit is still such an effort. Once in your wetsuit, you perspire ridiculously getting your bulging weight integrated BCD onto your back; you stagger down to the shore/boat straining under all that extra weight until you finally get into the water. Your balance seems appalling and it’s exhausting just getting to the water’s edge – God help you when you come out the water at the end of the dive. All seems great on your dive (so you tell yourself) – your buoyancy is “OK” although the people behind you can’t see a thing because you have kicked up the sand and silted their viz. You think your buoyancy is good – ask the people behind you and then book yourself onto a Perfect Buoyancy course and invest in the time & money to improve your buoyancy and thus, your diving. Now what about your fitness. Are you tired after diving – have you sucked your air out of the tank fast ? Are you first to reach 100bar and signal to everyone to turn around? Are you knackered after doing 2 dives no more than 15 meters ?
If yes to any of these questions it is time to address your fitness. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Exercise regularly i.e. 3 or 4x a week.
Fitness makes you more efficient at physical activity. The fitter you are, the less you will have to work to manage your gear on the surface, swim at depth, and get back into the boat. Though there are plenty of fit divers who are inexperienced and still hoover, you will only reduce your breathing rate by maintaining a consistent exercise program. Run, swim, bike, hike through the beautiful National Parks- it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re getting regular and consistent exercise every week. Use the stairs not the lift at shopping centres and walk around the block every evening.
Crossfit is such an awesome exercise regime to get into and there are plenty of Crossfit gyms up here on the Central Coast. You can research it first online and then do Crossfit in your own garage with just a few props to you get started. It’s FUN !!! If you prefer aerobic or dance join a Zumba class – have fun dancing your way to a fitter life. Running on the beach first this in the morning is one of my favorites. The sunrises are worth it and frankly I don’t have time during the day unless I get up early and workout before my family has surfaced. You can do other exercises on the beach too and at 6am there are always people around to keep you company. Learn how to do burpees and spend 20 minutes once a week doing 100 burpees (on the beach) – you will be surprised how short intense training makes a wonderful difference to your fitness and body shape. I recently heard of a great way to exercise with your kids/friends – go for a walk in the hills and find a clearing then build a wall with rocks. Just collect rocks from the bush and build a wall. It’s great strength training, you are bonding with the people with you and moving, lifting weights building core strength. Go for it, every time you return to your wall add some more rocks. Simple and fun and regular exercise and your diving will benefit and your health will massively benefit too. Yoga and rope skipping, are great exercises to add core strength and improve breathing & your fitness. Have fun exercising so you look forward to it rather than doing it out of guilt.
It’s one of the best exercises and free to do as we have plenty of beaches to swim up & down – so swim. Along with promoting general cardiovascular fitness, swimming forces us to adapt to the water in several ways beneficial to divers. We get comfortable breathing with our faces in the water, and this may reduce the immersion effect we experience when diving. Instead of sending a signal of alarm, your body remembers at a subconscious level that it’s OK for your face to be submerged. Freestyle swimming (a.k.a., “the crawl” or “front crawl”) is especially useful to divers, as it teaches us to breathe with a fast, deep inhalation and a long, slow exhalation. We sell swimming goggles in the shop so pick up a pair and get into the ocean for a swim.
As for your food choices – there is masses of research to back up and prove that grains are evil and the cause for so many health problems. You do the research for yourself starting with “paleo diet” and read “Wheat Belly” a great book written by Dr William Davis. Make a small change like no more wheat, no bread and no pasta that is wheat or corn based. It will make a huge difference to your wellbeing – help you to lose a few pounds and improve your buoyancy. The lighter you are the less weight you need to add to your BCD or weight belt. So diving is so much more enjoyable. Ask questions about the food you eating now and begin with no wheat – then take sugar out of the diet too and see the difference. Feel the difference and look amazing.