Diving holidays have become increasingly popular and it’s easy to see why. Diving is a fun activity which often takes place in beautiful parts of the world and enables you to get up close and personal with a wide array of marine life.
However, despite its slow, relaxing image, diving actually puts your body under a fair bit of stress and requires both strength and stamina. People who are physically fit are better placed to cope with these stresses and are less likely to encounter injury or illness.
So, how you can ensure you are fully prepared for your diving trip? While you don’t need to be a super-athlete to enjoy diving, maintaining a basic level of good health and fitness will ensure you get the most out of your holiday.
For maximum impact, your fitness regime should focus on cardiovascular fitness, strength training and agility.
While not strictly essential for diving, increasing your cardiovascular fitness can play a key role in improving your diving enjoyment.
A good level of cardiovascular fitness means that your body is better able to absorb and use oxygen. This is a key advantage when diving as it means you will use up less air – giving you more time to enjoy the dive. Improving your performance in this area will also make your body more efficient at getting rid of nitrogen, which in turn will decrease your chances of getting decompression sickness.
Cardio training can take many forms:
- Swimming is the obvious choice. As well as improving your fitness, swimming can also help you to regulate your breathing and feel confident in the water.
- Cycling is also a great way of preparing for your dive. The pedaling motion helps train your muscles for the ‘finning’ action used when diving, and it has the added benefit of being low impact so it doesn’t stress your joints or muscles.
- Running can really help to increase your cardiovascular capacity. It’s also accessible and convenient with no specialist equipment needed.
To get the best results, your training program should consist of high intensity interval-based exercises. This approach is much more effective than a longer bout of exercise carried out at a lower intensity.
When you take into account the dive tank and other equipment, divers often end up carrying up to an additional 25 kg. Divers also often find themselves swimming against strong currents or carrying out long surface swims. With this in mind, it pays to undertake some strength training before embarking on your diving trip.
A combination of weight training and resistance exercises using your body weight – for example, squats, press ups, planks – can be really effective and can be carried out at home or in the gym. Just make sure you get your technique right to avoid injury.
Flexibility and agility are also key skills for divers so it is worth paying attention to this in your fitness regime. Changing direction when swimming, reaching valves behind your head or back, and moving freely with diving gear on all require a good degree of flexibility.
A regular stretching routine, combined with strength training, can help improve your mobility. To stretch and strengthen muscles you may want to consider taking up yoga, which also has the added benefit of helping you to control your breathing.
There are some medical conditions that may affect your ability to dive, such as high blood pressure or asthma. To set your mind at ease, it’s worth asking your doctor for a medical examination before booking your diving holiday (some countries require this!) to ensure that your risk of injury or illness is minimized.
This may all sound like a lot of work but it really is worth it. A diving holiday can be a fantastic experience and putting some time aside to improve your physical fitness can help ensure you enjoy it to the full.