Snorkeling is more than just a leisure activity; it’s a window into an awe-inspiring world full of life. Imagine gliding effortlessly through the water, exploring vibrant coral reefs and encountering marine life up close – all while feeling safe, confident, and relaxed. In this article, we’ll share a series of fitness tips to help boost your snorkeling fitness and enhance your underwater experience.
- Understand the demands of snorkeling.
Snorkeling engages your body in in a variety of movements – from swimming and floating to the rhythmic motion of finning. Different snorkeling environments, from calm lakes to more adventurous open waters, have various challenges. Being fit enhances your ability to adapt and enjoy these settings, making your snorkeling journey both exciting and comfortable.
- Work on your cardiovascular fitness.
Longer snorkeling sessions demand stamina, and cardiovascular fitness is your ally here. Activities like swimming, brisk walking, or cycling, will help to improve your endurance, allowing you to explore underwater for longer without getting tired. Gradually increase your cardiovascular fitness to open the doors to more rewarding snorkeling adventures. Simply add some fitness activities to your daily life or in the months before your next snorkeling trip.
- Strengthen your core muscles.
Your core acts as the anchor for your stability and control in the water. A strong core lets you move effortlessly, maintain your position in the water, and glide more easily in choppy waters. All of which means you can focus on the beautiful landscapes and marine life around you.
Exercises like planks, Pilates, and yoga poses that target your core muscles, will help you to build core strength and move through the water with less effort. As with any new fitness regime, start slowly and work with a fitness professional to make sure you don’t injure yourself.
- Build upper body strength.
Strong back muscles are essential for easy maneuvering while snorkeling and during finning. Exercises like push-ups, lateral raises, and rowing will enhance your upper body strength. Strengthening these muscle groups not only makes it easier and less tiring to move in the water, but it also means you can explore for longer and protect your back from injury.
- Strengthen your legs.
Effective finning relies on strong leg muscles. Incorporating squats, lunges, and calf raises into your fitness routine will help to build leg strength, ensuring strong, smooth finning motions. This is especially important when you’re snorkeling with large marine life that you need to fin to keep up with, such as whale sharks.
- Get flexible.
Your muscles work hard in the water, and you adjust your body position a lot when snorkeling – often without even realizing it. Being flexible makes snorkeling easier on your body, so you won’t ache the next day! Add some stretches to your usual fitness routine to improve your flexibility. A supple body also allows you to move with ease and enjoy the marine life and landscapes around you.
- Work on your breathing.
Being able to breathe easily and fully is vital for snorkeling. Strong respiratory muscles ensure a calm and relaxed snorkeling experience, letting you fully appreciate the beauty of the aquatic world. Breathwork exercises are a great way to improve lung capacity, and there are numerous breathwork courses online to guide you.
- Preventing snorkeling-related injuries.
Make sure you warm up with some gentle stretches before your snorkeling session. Simple exercises like arm swings and leg swings help prepare your muscles for activity. As part of your snorkeling gear, also include a compact first aid kit to address minor cuts, scrapes, or stings that may occur during your adventures.
- Nutrition and hydration.
Proper nutrition fuels your body for optimal snorkeling performance, but you don’t want to eat a big meal before you go snorkeling. Instead, eat something small and nourishing before you go snorkeling and keep hydrated by drinking water.
Consume healthy snacks like trail mix or energy bars to keep your energy levels steady throughout your snorkeling day. In colder environments, a flask of hot drink provides comforting warmth after your snorkeling adventure.
- Listen to your body.
Take your time when you go snorkeling and allow your body to adapt to the aquatic environment. Listen to your body’s cues, and don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level. As you gain confidence and stamina, you’ll naturally progress to more challenging snorkeling adventures.
- Stay safe in the water.
Prioritize your safety by investing in snorkeling equipment designed for visibility and buoyancy. Brightly colored snorkel vests, dive floats, and flags make you easy to see in the water. Before setting out, familiarize yourself with local tides, currents, and potential boat traffic as well to ensure a secure and enjoyable snorkeling experience.
Just remember, fitness is a journey, and small changes make a difference. You will naturally get fitter and stronger the more you go snorkeling and if you add some simple fitness activities into your daily life. If you want to learn more advanced in-water skills and explore in new ways, try scuba diving or freediving on your next snorkeling vacation. They both offer fun ways to expand your underwater horizons while simultaneously boosting your fitness levels and confidence.
Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.
Header image: Neom
The healing powers of adaptive diving
PADI highlights how scuba diving helps enrich and heal lives
This International Disabilities Day (3rd December) PADI is reminding the world of the healing aspects that the ocean (or any body of water) can provide and how important it is for helping those with physical or mental challenges improve their wellbeing. From simply being within close proximity of it or diving beneath the salty surface for an underwater adventure, the ocean has the power to heal.
Regardless of your age, ability, or even limitations, the ocean can benefit us physically, emotionally and even spiritually. This is why PADI is on a mission to make those benefits accessible to all, with their Adaptive Techniques Diving Course in the hope that all of humanity can experience the full transformational power of the ocean.
While many are more familiar with traditional therapies, diving, mermaiding or freediving, has changed the lives of those around the world by connecting with the water and enabled them to conquer mental or physical perceived limitations.
The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course is unique in that it’s a pro-level specialty designed to educate and empower PADI Professionals who wish to make scuba and freediver training more accessible.
Through classroom, confined water and open water workshops, dive professionals further cultivate their ability to be student-centered and prescriptive in approach when adapting techniques to meet diver needs. This hands-on training increases awareness of differing abilities and explores adaptive teaching techniques to apply when training divers with physical and mental challenges. PADI Pros learn to adapt course content to accommodate virtually any student diver.
PADI Members Helping those with Disabilities
This International Disabilities Day PADI highlights a shining example of a member who is championing teaching those with disabilities how to dive.
DiveHeart Empowers Individuals Worldwide Through Adaptive Scuba Programmes
DiveHeart, a PADI Dive Centre founded by PADI Scuba Instructor Jim Elliott in 2001, continues to revolutionise the world of adaptive scuba. Using zero gravity and adaptive scuba, DiveHeart aims to instil confidence, foster independence, and elevate self-esteem among individuals facing physical and cognitive challenges.
DiveHeart has established Adaptive Scuba programmes across North America and the Caribbean and reaches global destinations including Malaysia, Australia, China, Israel, and the UK. Through a combination of donations, grants, and strategic partnerships, DiveHeart ensures inclusivity by providing services to children, veterans, individuals with ALS, autism, and others, irrespective of their abilities or financial means.
A significant milestone in DiveHeart’s journey was the hosting of the inaugural Adaptive Scuba Symposium in 2009, held at the prestigious Our World Underwater event in the Midwest. This pioneering symposium attracted a diverse array of experts, including researchers, physicians, professors, therapists, adaptive dive professionals, and participants from across the globe. The event delved into the current state and the future of adaptive scuba, scuba therapy, the adaptive scuba market, the latest in adaptive scuba training techniques and the latest in scuba therapy research.
At the forefront of adaptive scuba initiatives, DiveHeart offers specialised training courses for certified scuba divers to become adaptive dive buddies. Every diver with a disability is paired with two dive buddies to form a cohesive dive team, ensuring a safe and empowering experience.
DiveHeart further hosts regular pool diving programmes catering to divers of all skill levels nationwide and organises immersive week-long adaptive diving trips to ocean locations like Cozumel, Roatán, and others at least three times annually.
Jim Elliot, the Founder and President of DiveHeart, a scuba diving instructor since 1997, recognised the transformative potential of adaptive diving for individuals with physical disabilities. Witnessing firsthand the holistic benefits encompassing physical fitness, emotional well-being, and mental health, Elliot embarked on a mission to make scuba diving accessible and empowering for all.
DiveHeart remains committed to breaking barriers and creating opportunities for individuals facing challenges, enabling them to explore the vast wonders of the underwater world while unlocking their true potential. For more information on DiveHeart and its impactful initiatives, visit www.diveheart.org
People Who Have Healed from Diving
For people with disabilities—whether they use a wheelchair, have a sight impairment or a neurological condition like cerebral palsy—scuba diving can be a fun activity that offers freedom and mobility in the weightlessness of the water. PADI’s Adaptive Support Diver specialty is a course designed to teach friends and family adaptive techniques for diving with a buddy who has a disability. Many students take the course to support a particular person in their life, and the instructor can work with them on the specific skills they require.
Ryan Chen: Diving to Heal the Mind, Body and Spirit
Ryan is a PADI Open Water Scuba Diver who was in a tragic accident as a teenager that left him paralysed. He found healing and clarity through scuba diving with his dive buddy Kent Yoshimura – so much so that during one scuba diving trip he and Kent ended up creating their current company Neuro Gum – a collection of functional gum and mints that help you get energised, calm or focused that has now led him to be named on Forbes 30 under 30.
“Scuba diving was one of the ways I learned that I can do anything, I just have to do it differently,” Chen says, “Scuba diving is one of those things that can change your whole framework. There’s no cooler feeling than taking that first breath underwater. All of a sudden you have this superpower, to breathe underwater and explore.”
Scuba diving continues to be his physical and mental therapy he continually seeks out amidst his busy entrepreneurial life. Now, with Neuro a national success and leading wellness brand in the United States, Chen has kept up his diving, and remained close to PADI as an organisation. Neuro even has a collaboration with PADI’s coral reef restoration project coming up—a special pack of Neuro, with proceeds going to PADI’s non-profit foundation.
The life of a Great White Shark
The great white shark, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, embodies the apex predator of the ocean. This majestic creature’s life is a testament to survival, adaptability, and the intricate balance of the marine ecosystem.
Born in the waters off coastal regions, a great white shark begins its life as a pup within the safety of nurseries, typically found in warm, shallow waters. The pups, measuring around 5 feet in length at birth, are immediately equipped with an innate instinct for survival.
As they grow, great whites embark on a journey, venturing into deeper and cooler waters, often covering vast distances across the ocean. These apex predators are perfectly adapted hunters, relying on their impressive senses to detect prey. Their acute sense of smell, aided by specialized sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, helps detect the faintest traces of blood in the water from several miles away.
Feeding primarily on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals, great whites are known for their powerful jaws lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. Their hunting techniques often involve stealth, utilizing their streamlined bodies to approach prey from below and striking with incredible speed and force.
Despite their fearsome reputation, great whites play a crucial role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. As top predators, they help regulate the population of prey species, preventing overpopulation that could disrupt the balance of the food chain.
Reproduction among great white sharks is a slow and careful process. Females reach sexual maturity between 12 and 18 years of age, while males mature earlier, around 9 to 10 years old. Mating occurs through complex courtship rituals, with females giving birth to a small number of live pups after a gestation period of about 12 to 18 months.
However, the life of a great white shark is not without challenges. Human activities, including overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction, pose significant threats to their population. Additionally, despite their formidable presence, great whites are vulnerable and face dangers from entanglement in fishing gear and accidental bycatch.
Despite these challenges, great white sharks continue to inspire awe and fascination among scientists and nature enthusiasts. Their presence in the ocean serves as a reminder of the delicate balance and interconnectedness of marine life, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures for future generations to admire and study.
Want to learn more about sharks? Visit The Shark Trust website: www.sharktrust.org
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