When you enroll in your open water diver course, you will have to complete a fairly simple skills test which usually involving treading water or floating for or a set length of time and swimming a certain distance. Unless they have a medical complication, most people will be able to pass this with ease. Yet the water can present quite a challenge to even the most athletic person.
Although scuba diving can be a tremendously relaxing pastime, it is a very physical activity nonetheless. A diver must propel themselves through a fairly dense medium, a feat that involves no small amount of resistance. They may find it necessary to swim against a current, tread water for an extended period of time or – at the least – carry gear from their car to the dive boat. And it has been proven that out-of-shape individuals can retain a great deal of CO2, which may lead to increased fatigue and make you more susceptible to decompression illness.
It is because of these and other factors that being physically fit is a good goal for a diver to shoot for. While there are no hard and fast rules for what makes up a good scuba fitness regimen, there are certain areas you should concentrate on. Chief among these are cardiovascular conditioning and strength training.
Breathing well is important to any physically-demanding activity, but in diving it’s how you stay alive. A diver in poor condition may breathe heavier, thus consuming his air supply quicker as well as becoming easily tired. Working on strengthening the lungs can be immensely beneficial, so you’ll want to focus on cardiovascular exercises. These involve engaging your large muscles through activities such as running, biking, step aerobics and swimming. And if you smoke, consider cutting back or quitting. The added carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry, so at the least forgo lighting up right before a dive.
Concentrating on increasing your strength is also key to enjoyable and safe diving. While floating in the water can reduce the strain your gear would cause, you still need to suit up topside, as well as enter and leave the water with a good deal of weight strapped on. And you never know when you may need to transport an injured buddy to the surface, onto a boat or upon land. Weight training and resistance exercises, including those performed with workout equipment, can help get you the added “ oomph” you may need.
Before starting a fitness program, talk to your doctor and a trainer about any special needs you may have, as well as the possibility of tailoring a personal regimen and diet.07/31/2012