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Five tips for a healthier lifestyle to become a safer, fitter diver

By: Kristen Fassolas

There have been a few articles recently about the importance of having a good level of health and fitness for diving. We all know we should be exercising for general good health. If you aren’t then you should seriously start to think about primarily improving your cardiovascular fitness as this is extremely important for diving.

Yes, diving is on most occasions, in good conditions, a relaxed sport and appears to require little physical effort. Consequently, the importance of good fitness is overlooked. However, there are a lot of physical processes going on in your body during sport diving and even more so in technical diving. These place a great demand on your cardiovascular system. Couple this with the fact that conditions can change very quickly under water. For example, suddenly having to swim against a strong current or being involved in an emergency situation. You can see why good fitness becomes critical.

Fitness is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the condition of being physically fit and healthy” and “the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.” Think of an emergency situation involving you and/or your buddy which you could possibly encounter under water. Are you confident that you have a good enough level of fitness to be able to cope with the stress your body will be put under and fulfill your role in the rescue? If your answer is no, then it’s time to build your confidence in this area by improving your health and fitness.

The subject of good fitness and its direct relationship with increasing safety and reducing risk in the diving industry is now starting to be recognized. For example, the UK has recently tightened their medical pass mark guidelines regarding diver fitness levels and BMI levels for those who work in diving. This is to ensure any medical-related issues due to poor health and fitness are minimized.

We know that exercising helps improve our fitness. Nutrition and healthy habits also play a huge part in improving our health, aiding weight loss and therefore reducing the stress on our hearts in every day and in emergency situations which all makes for safer diving.

Even if you aren’t yet able to dedicate time to an exercise regime, there are a number of things you can do to start building a healthier lifestyle. My top five tips for this are:

Hydration

The importance of water and being hydrated is generally underestimated and is even more important when diving to help reduce the risk of DCI. Water is the single most critical nutrient for health, growth, and development. Achieving optimum hydration should be high up on the list for anybody trying to lose weight and reduce fat. This is because it reduces hunger by naturally suppressing appetite, increases the body’s ability to metabolize fat and flush out toxins. It also helps to increase energy levels. Aim to drink around six to eight glasses of water a day.

Portion Control

An easy way to measure this is by using your hands as a guide.

  • A serving of protein is about the size of the palm of your hand (a chicken breast).
  • A serving of carbohydrate is the size of a large handful (a large handful of cooked rice).
  • A serving of vegetables is about a fistful.

Yes, vegetables are also a type of carbohydrate, but they are natural and bursting with nutrients, so I like to look at them separately.

Protein

Your organs, tissues, muscles and hormones are all made from proteins. Consequently, eating protein helps your body to develop, grow and function properly. Having protein in your meals helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and leads to you feeling satiated quicker. This can help limit overeating. Most people are eating too many refined carbohydrates: they are carb-centric. Let’s switch to being protein-centric for each meal. The first question when preparing each meal should be What is my source of protein?

Move more throughout the day

There are infinite ways to move more throughout the day. Consequently, there is no excuse for not having the time or not being able to get to a gym. If you are in a sedentary job, ensure you get up and walk for a few minutes every hour. Take a walk at lunch, play a sport and don’t be limited by convenience. For example:

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
  • Get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest.

There are always ways to add a little more movement and exercise into your day.

Sleep well

Sleep is a vitally important factor (one that is often neglected) that influences our physical health, mental health, and weight loss. Poor sleep can lower concentration and brain function, lower your immune system, increase hunger and sugar cravings. This can then lead to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.

  •   Try to chill out before you go to bed.
  •  Read a book or take a bath.
  • Be sure to minimize exposure to laptops, tablets, and phones for at least two hours before you go to bed.
  • Avoid stimulants after 6:00 in the evening (coffee, tea, chocolate) and sleep in a room that is ventilated.

Who’d have thought that optimal sleep can actually help us lose weight!

If you want to find out more about how to build a healthy lifestyle and improve your health and fitness to become a safer diver, then please contact me via my website and I’ll be happy to help. www.thescubafitnesscoach.co.uk

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