Scuba diving offers a unique blend of adventure and wellness. On one hand, it’s an exciting and sometimes daring opportunity to submerge 30 meters or more underwater with an oxygen tank. On the other hand, it’s a calming experience that allows people to escape from whatever chaos lies above the surface.
As Grateful Divers ourselves, we’ve experienced how diving has led us toward improved physical and mental health—and it’s not just us! Founding member of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia noticed the health benefits after he began diving in Hawaii in the late 1980s. We’re excited to discuss how each dive can be a step toward enhancing overall well-being. It’s important to note that not all of these physical and mental health benefits are scientifically proven; we’re simply diving into these benefits from a holistic approach to wellness.
Physical Health Benefits Of Scuba Diving
Divers need a degree of cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength before going underwater. It doesn’t have to be high-level athlete status, but anyone who dives should be in good physical health. At the most basic level, you need endurance to swim through a current and strength when handling equipment.
While it may not feel as though you’re working out underwater, diving is a great low-impact aerobic exercise. Maneuvering through the water's resistance and maintaining control of your movements involves mindful muscular strength. For instance, swimming against a current with the drag of equipment uses a good amount of metabolic energy, strengthening the heart and the lungs. Divers must also control their depth and position, engaging the abdominal muscles and strengthening their core.
Mental Health Benefits Of Scuba Diving
Scuba diving offers more than an underwater adventure; it’s also an opportunity for mindfulness. Navigating the depths requires composure and complete attention, allowing you to focus on the present moment. PADI offers a specialty course covering the psychological aspects of scuba diving. The idea is to train divers to understand how the brain works underwater, how to make decisions, and how to deal with instinctive reactions to potentially harmful events.
Scuba diving requires controlled and deliberate breathing techniques. Taking slow, deep breaths while submerged not only conserves personal air supply but also promotes body relaxation and reduces stress. Some divers aim for 6-8 breaths per minute. These controlled breathing techniques can be applied in everyday life to help with anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, and medical conditions.
A 2016 study by the University of Sheffield Medical School reported a significant improvement in the mental health and well-being of military veterans who completed the PADI Deptherapy course. Participants included those who suffered physical injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those who took part in scuba diving during the study reported improvement in insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Precautions And Considerations
Whether you’re a first-time diver or a veteran diver, it's important to always prioritize your health and safety. Prospective divers, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, should consult a qualified medical professional before diving. This ensures that you are medically cleared for the physical demands of scuba diving and that any potential risks are carefully assessed.
During the certification process, you’ll be equipped with essential skills and knowledge, such as dive planning, emergency procedures, and buoyancy control, all of which are critical for a safe and enjoyable dive. Prioritizing proper training establishes a solid foundation for your underwater explorations.
As Grateful Divers, we are genuinely grateful for a sport that provides us with so much positivity—physically and mentally. While there are risks involved with scuba diving, remember to listen to your body, your guide, and the conditions before going under. Grateful Diver supplies the best gear for any ocean adventure including UV shirts, neck gaiters, or hats. A portion of every purchase benefits Reef Relief, to help maintain healthy and sustainable habitats for marine life.