LOCKDOWN DIVER: Are you dive fit?
So, not long until we’re back in the water for some more diving! How exciting!
Are you ready??
Yes! You might say. However, are you fit enough? Are you Dive Fit?
It’s not something that everyone thinks about on a regular basis and with the most recent global pandemic most of us haven’t been diving for around 6-12 months. I’ve heard plenty of people talking about their ‘covid weight’ – an increase in weight due to the fact that they’ve been snacking more at home and have generally been less active. I’ll holds my hands up too – it happened to be during the first lockdown! Even though we were still allowed outside for exercise during lockdown I can’t be sure that we all did so….(Not that that’s a problem), and of course, the gyms were closed along with other sporting activities and clubs being unable to go ahead with anything. I’ll also say at this point, others have been the opposite. I’ve seen that others have take advantage of this time and improved on their fitness and are coming out of lockdown fitter than when they went in.
Effectively, a small loss in strength and fitness can ultimately affect our diving abilities as we may become uncomfortable in gear we’re normally used to and/or out of breath with the simplest of tasks if we’re exceedingly unfit. If you think about it, diving can be quite a physical challenge we’re lifting our cylinders, carrying our weights, and swimming against currents amongst other things. Even an emergency situation can lead to not just higher stress & heart rate levels, but also more physical exertion. So considering a bit of exercise wouldn’t hurt at all, and not just to “recover” from the covid-19 period, but on a regular basis.
DDRC say, “Obesity and poor levels of fitness are real risks for divers. For most dives that go to plan you don’t need to be fit. It’s when things don’t go to plan that your levels of fitness will make a difference between a close shave and a serious incident. Studies repeatedly show that the exertion required to rescue a diver is substantial. Many of us might not have been diving since last summer or are considering UK diving after our usual overseas trip has been cancelled. We would urge people to get fit, be cautious and to ease themselves back to diving gradually and conservatively. Slowly build up to the kind of dives which you have previously been doing. We realise that there may be a sense of needing to make up lost time – but 2020 is not the year to break depth records and push exposure limits.”
I’m not going to tell you to go and join a gym. There’s lots of things you can do that don’t cost you a penny, even the tiniest of things can help:
- Go for walks. Break up your working day, go stretch your legs for half hour during your lunch hour or instead of sitting in front of the TV for an hour in the evening go for a stroll along the beach or around the neighbourhood.
- Start running, take it easy at first. There are many apps and programmes online that you can follow. The couch to 5k app is quite a popular and easy one to use.
- Have you got a bike in the shed that’s now home to a bunch of spiders? Give it a brush off and get back on the saddle….
- Take the stairs, not the lift or escalator.
- Walk the long way round! 😉
- Don’t park in the closest available parking space at the shop, go for the furthest one at the other end of the car park! Lol
- Check out YouTube. There’s so many videos on there for a range of different workouts, and don’t forget…..use your diving weights if you need to!
- Outdoor gyms. Some public areas have some workout equipment – a local one to us is Poole Park, around the pond. Give them a go while you’re walking/running around the pond.
- Download a fitness app on your phone. There are a few free ones available (and some that are chargeable) that provide an array of different workout exercises.
- A good (and fun) one that’s not free but is cheap, are the Beryl Bikes around Bournemouth and Poole. They’re easy to use and not very expensive at all.
So, I’m not a qualified trainer or in anyway, shape or form an experienced sporty person so I’ll tell you about my recent fitness journey and then provide some links for some (what I feel) reliable training and fitness blogs/websites etc that could be useful for becoming dive fit.
If someone told me 12 months ago that I’d be able to run 5k now nonstop(ish) I would’ve laughed in their face and told them to sober up! Although I’ve had numerous gym memberships over the years and enjoy walking, I can most certainly say, hand on my heart, that I’ve never had an interest in exercising. You could say I’m allergic to it – literally(!) – unfortunately I have a condition called Cholinergic Urticaria (yes, I have to Google it every time). In English? Basically, I’m allergic to my own body sweat and have to regulate my body temperate accordingly. Ewwwwwwww. In fact, because it means I come out in a red heat rash most people panic if they see it after a dive because they think I may have decompression sickness! I haven’t done a lot of exercise because of this for a loooooooong time! I always get embarrassed when people point out my rash and because I was bullied over it at school it stopped me doing anything to prevent the rash appearing and to stop any questions and having to explain it. Although I still have to put up with it in other situations (like going from a hot outdoor environment into an air-conditioned room etc), exercise is one of its main triggers. To this day, I still get embarrassed by and will try to avoid certain situations if I can help it and mostly brush off peoples comments or questions (or just try to hide myself or it!). In fact, I think this photo was taken the last time I participated in exercise LOL - Beanbag race, sports day 1995 ;)
In February 2020 we went away for a weekend in London and our hotel room had one of those stupidly big mirrors in the bathroom and I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in it and didn’t like what I saw. I knew I’d put a bit of weight on (yes, this was before the lockdown!) and decided it was time to do something. I actually joined a gym online there and then!! That week I started going to the local gym making an effort 2-3 times a week starting off with the cardio side of things. I power walked on the treadmill and did some cycling and cross training for around 1-2 hours. Needless to say, I started getting bored quite quickly & came up with excuses as to why I couldn’t go, and then when the first lockdown hit, I used it as an excuse to cancel my membership. I actually remember trying a light jog on the treadmills and not being able to do 3 minutes!! I lost a few pounds during this time but nothing much – better than none I suppose. Fast forward to the Autumn of 2020 and I noticing that I was struggling carrying & lifting cylinders to and from the dive van, getting out of breath going up the office steps and squeezing into my size 12 jeans! Again, things needed to change this time, after all I didn’t want to be too fat and not fit into the wedding dress I had bought. We’d been given a treadmill during the first lockdown, which we used a handful of times and then, admittedly, used it to store things on! LOL! In October I decided that I should probably give the couch to 5k app a go, being as I’d downloaded it all those months ago…. I started using it and, to my surprise, actually enjoyed it. Admittedly I was struggling with things towards the end of 2020 and during the third lockdown (but who wasn’t?!), so I felt that this was giving me a reason to get out of bed in the morning to do something productive and feel better for it throughout the rest of the day and being able to achieve something every other day. Yes, I’ll admit, there were some days and the odd week that I missed, but I got back on it! After 3-4 weeks I realised that it was making a difference, I noticed that my body shape was changing and that I had lost a couple of inches off certain areas that I hoping to target. I also realised that I wasn’t getting out of breath walking up the stairs anymore and that I was feeling much better in myself. Halfway through my couch to 5k programme I realised that I was enjoying it so much and liked the difference it was making that I decided to add another workout regime to my routine. I found a suitable fitness app (after trying many) that enabled me to go at my own pace and had a variety of workouts to do. So, 1-2 days a week, as well as running, I also do a Legs, Bums & Tums workout, some stretching and a bit of yoga – I even tried hula hooping at one point, but that one’s not for me!
I still can’t believe how much I’m enjoying my new exercising and am keen to continue it once lockdown is over. It was quite an overwhelming moment when I completed the last run of the couch to 5k and I still enjoy running today. I highly recommend getting into a regular fitness regime, not just for diving but for your own satisfaction, mental health, and general health & fitness.
Don’t let a poor fitness level let you down when you’ve been waiting to go diving for so long! Get yourself into a regular exercise pattern – it doesn’t have to be too much – just walking can do.
DAN recommend about 30 – 60 minutes of exercise 3 – 4 times a week to help meet the demands of diving. They advise gradually building up your strength, stamina and endurance for the dive season ahead following our altered fitness regimes and lifestyles during the covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a handy top from one of their blog posts:
“In those weeks before your dive, slowly crank up your fitness with a mix of both low- and high-intensity workouts — walking, running, yoga, lifting weights, cycling and swimming are all great options with their own benefits. Don’t anticipate your body being able to perform as it did this time last year. The aim is to first re-establish and then enhance endurance and cardiovascular fitness.”
As promised earlier, there’s some links below to some websites and popular apps for more information on getting ‘DIVE FIT.’ Click on the pictures to find out more information.
Deep Blue Diving has a great, detailed article on some fitness & diving tips
DAN have a series of workouts:
- Neglecting Health & Fitness
- Body & Brain
- An in depth article on weight training for diving fitness
- Strengthening your core – without the situps!
- Battle rope workouts
- Have a stretch before you dive
This website is more than just side mounting, there’s some great content on here! It was recommended to me by a friend when I wanted to improve my finning technique and I found the ‘exercises & stretches’ video very helpful (here's a preview) - https://youtu.be/kc19r0sxPqQ
If circuit training is your thing, this article may interest you
And if its inflatables you prefer…
I found Laura’s blog on 6 ways to stay fit to dive an interesting read. It’s not just about fitness, it’s helpful for your mind and soul too! As well as a link to their Health & Wellbeing Facebook group for the ladies…
There are plenty of other blogs, websites, apps and videos online to browse through. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be ‘scuba diver’ specific but they’ll give you an idea of the types of exercises you can be doing to help improve your cardio and strength etc to prepare you for the years of diving ahead of you!
At DDS we wish you the best of diving for the year ahead and many more to come! Stay calm, stay fit, dive! We’ll see you very soon.