When most people think about scuba diving, they picture vibrant coral reefs, sea turtles and fascinating marine life. And though, these are definite reasons to go scuba diving, they are not all that diving has to offer. Did you know that scuba diving has a multitude of positive health benefits? Yes, we are talking of scuba diving for Fit India! Some of the scuba diving health benefits are derived from the physical activity it entails. But there are also proven mental health benefits. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how far reaching the effects of scuba diving are on both your physical and mental well-being.
Scuba Dive for Fit India & A Healthier You
Here are just a few key benefits you experience when you go scuba diving in India:
Scuba diving encourages divers to take long, slow, deep breathes. A calm, slow breathing pattern reduces the risk of a lung-expansion injury while diving. But did you know that it also helps reduce mucus build up?! This breathing pattern has also been known to help with existing conditions, such as asthma. The breathing technique used during diving is similar to that used during some styles of meditation, including yoga. It helps slow down your heart rate, promoting a state of peacefulness. Slow rhythmic breathing can also have a calming effect on your psyche.
2. It increases your fitness levels, strength and flexibility.
Have you heard of resistance training? When you go scuba diving, you’ll be doing that too! Your muscles have to work harder underwater than they would on land due to the increased resistance caused by the water around you. The level of resistance increases significantly when you are swimming against even a mild current. That’s why we recommend scuba diving for Fit India. The more you dive and swim, the more your muscles begin to strengthen. And you’ll also develop endurance as well as flexibility. Scuba diving and swimming doesn’t only give your legs a workout. It can also help build up your core strength, which is important for a good overall posture.
3. It lowers your blood pressure
Remember the first time you went underwater? In all likelihood, you would have experienced a spike in blood pressure. Most divers do, due to the excitement and adrenaline. But this is usually only a temporary increase. Once you have recovered from the initial spike, your heart rate reduces, so does your blood pressure. The slow and deep breathing technique you learn helps lower your blood pressure and keeps you calm throughout the dive.
4. It introduces you to the spectacular marine life underwater
Seeing stunning coral reefs and a fabulous array of fish and critters is enough to put anyone in a good mood. Also, it has been proven that seeing certain colors can affect the brain in many different ways. Scientists believe that being subjected to bright, intense colors, similar to the ones we might find surrounding reefs, can promote feelings of happiness. It can uplift your mood. In addition, the color blue has been known to induce a calming effect on the body.
Yes, it is possible to dive virtually anywhere on the planet that has a body of water. However, divers tend to travel more than they dive at home. Traveling overseas, exploring and taking time off work, all lead to adventures, excitement and positive experiences. All of which are good for your body, mind and soul. Infinitely much better than being stressed, bored and stuck in a rut, don’t you agree?!
6. It provides you with the healing effects of water
Being underwater has many healing benefits. The likeness to being in the womb is believed to promote feelings of security, well-being and happiness. In addition, being in salt water for long periods of time can cause your body to dehydrate meaning that you tend to drink a lot more after the dive. This in turn means that you are replenishing your cells. You are receiving all the benefits of water both externally and internally.
7. It exposes you to sunlight
Being exposed to sunlight creates vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium, which in turn keeps bones healthy and strong. Exposure to sunlight also helps increase endorphin production. Now you know why we scuba divers are a happy lot.
8. It has socializing benefits
Diving is a social activity. It involves diving with a buddy. And among divers, we find like-minded people with a common interest. There is a sense of community. A sense of being part of a ‘tribe’ when spending time with other divers. All of which are positive feelings and good for your mental well-being. Did we mention that it also helps lower stress, building confidence and gives you a sense of security and belonging!
We have mentioned it earlier that the breathing pattern for diving is similar to a meditative breathing pattern. Meditating is a great remedy for stress too. Slower breathing promotes calmness. Not just that, but when we are diving, we are focused on the environment around us which enables us to completely forget work, family, relationships or financial issues. Having this mental ‘time out’ gives the body a chance to rest. It brings the nervous system back to its natural balance. Studies have shown that a relaxed and calm mind promotes a positive mental attitude. It helps you deal with your issues in a calm and rational manner. It reduces feelings of depression.
Corona Virus & Fitness
There are many uncertainties and unknowns surrounding the Corona Virus pandemic. But one thing that is widely believed to be true is that the effects of COVID-19 are generally less severe in a person who is physically healthy and fit. We know, you may not cherish the thought of going to the gym to work on your fitness, but how about going diving instead!
At Plant Scuba India, we are following recommendations regarding scuba diving health and hygiene standards. We have new procedures in place to ensure that gear is disinfected and all recommendations are being met. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will require a doctors medical clearance, as a precautionary measure, prior to participating in any in-water activities. Contact us by email and we can provide you with a form for your doctor to sign.
If you’d like to learn to dive or to join us for fun diving in India, or if you have any questions about scuba diving for Fit India, health and diving, or corona virus and diving, contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to diving with you soon!
Text: Sarah Ann Wormland, PADI
Photos (in order of appearance): Madhava Reddy, David ST Loh, Gopala Krishnan
What happens when on the initial day of your scuba diving holiday itself you see manta rays and dozens of white tip and grey reef sharks? Well, the stakes just get higher for the dive guides. But then again, this is the Maldives! The tropical paradise made up of 26 atolls, with some of the best scuba diving sites in the world. And every dive here is simply spectacular.
Scuba diving holiday in Magical Maldives
For Planet Scuba India, this was our third trip to the Maldives in 2018. And, come to think of it, it seemed like each diving holiday was trying to supersede the previous one. This time around, our liveaboard of choice was the Horizon 3. From October 7-13, this luxury liveaboard was home to 23 guests of different nationalities—Indians, Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Malaysians. Including two divers from India completing their PADI Open Water Diver course. They then went on to complete their PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, along with three other scuba divers from India.
This diving holiday also had a couple of non-divers (who enjoyed themselves just as much, if not more) and some of the best photographers. You need only take a look at the pictures to nod in agreement.
It was six fun-filled days of eat, sleep and dive! And, of course, swapping of hilarious, unforgettable scuba diving adventures.
Here are some of the highlights of one of our best diving holidays in the Maldives.
The Manta show
First dive of the day at Lankan Manta point. This dive site, at the southeastern outer reef of Lankanfinolhu Island, is one of the most popular cleaning stations for manta rays in North Male Atoll. And, as luck would have it, on the day of our dive, the manta rays showed up in all their magnificent glory. We took a giant stride off the dive dhoni, descended a few meters, and gasped in awe (well, as much as one can gasp with regulator in mouth), as a manta ray elegantly swam past. Not knowing then that this was just a prelude of what was to come a few minutes later. Our dive guide led us to the coral blocks of the cleaning station. And, lo behold, heads swiveled in every direction as mantas glided in, out, and around in circles.
Here’s the thing about cleaning stations: they are a riot of colors. It is not just the mantas vying for attention but brightly hued cleaner fish, vibrant corals, and a motley of sea creatures. There is just so much to take in that you rue the fact that your neck isn’t able to turn more than 90 degrees. Just how are you supposed to see the cuttlefish whooshing past behind your back, when you eyes are so intensely trained on the spectacular subjects in front of you?!
Mantas come calling
Subjects that came to visit us later that night. Bang at dinnertime! Who cares about food when you can watch a manta ray circle around the back of your boat instead. Well, to be fair, it was dinnertime for the mantas too. And one somersaulted away, mouth agape, sieving marine organisms out of the water and into its stomach. Round and round it went, as 23 heads (more if you count the crew) stuck out of the sides of the boat watching in fascination. That is, till it had had its fill and glided away as surreptitiously as it had appeared.
Bathala Maaga Kanthila, North Ari Atoll. Even though this dive site, which we visited right after the underwater manta ray spectacle, had grey reef and white tip sharks. Not to forget, schools of yellowback fusiliers and a huge Napoleon wrasse that stole the show. It was the dive at Fish Head at North Ari Atoll that remains etched in our memory. Perhaps it was the story that did it for us. As our dive guide, Marko, told us during the briefing that at one time this was a famous fishing spot. But when the fishermen reeled in their catch, all they got was the heads of the fish. The sneaky sharks had eaten up the rest. Or perhaps it was the dive site itself. With its multiple ledges and picturesque overhangs replete with fan corals and abundant fish life.
Again, just a few meters and a few minutes into the dive, we spotted sharks right below us. Our dive guide took us on a detour, around one ledge and onto another below it. Having us swim stealthily to not disturb the unfolding drama. Sharks darted around, remoras in tow, while parrotfish hid in crevices in corals. And clownfish peeked out of anemones. Crustaceans moved a centimeter at a time to not be spotted.
It was 45 minutes of spying on sharks. Eyes wide in wonderment; cameras trained at the action. Grey reef sharks and white tip sharks, and also barracudas—all the predators at their A-game. Little wonder then that Fish Head, also known as Shark Point or Mushimasmingili Thila, is listed as one of the most famous dive sites in the world.
Night dive with nurse sharks
We just can’t get enough of sharks. Especially on night dives. Two months later, we were back during this diving holiday too to be bumped into by nurse sharks. Simply put, the dive at Alimatha Jetty, Vaavu Atoll, offers an adrenaline rush like no other. And to think that all you need to do is kneel on a sandy bottom. While nurse sharks, stingrays, travellies whip around you foraging for food. If we had to bet on a species, it would be the crafty travellies, who gulped down the food faster than the nurse sharks and stingrays could wonder: ‘where the heck did it go?’. It was a surreal experience that no amount of photographs or videos could do justice to. Though the ace photographers did manage to capture little snippets of the frenzy.
Back at the boat after the dive, and the nurse sharks came visiting. Who would have thought that after all the action underwater, there would still be so much excitement to see them. Cameras were whipped out. Facebook Lives were posted. Frantic video calls were made to friends to gloat about what they were missing.
Whale shark frenzy
There’s only one thing in the Maldives that can get divers into the water faster than you can blink. And that’s the much-awaited sound of someone screaming: ‘whale shark’! On this diving holiday, we snorkeled to see one just after our dive at Dhigurah Beyru, South Ari Atoll; a dive site that counts whale shark encounters as one of its highlights. It was a mad jumble of divers, cameras and fins, as a lonesome whale shark swam calmly, feeding its way through the waters. Seemingly oblivious to the mayhem unfolding above, for just a glance of it.
Colloquially, UMS, or usual Maldivian stuff, is a term used to describe everything from soft corals to giant turtles. That’s because every dive in the Maldives reveals spectacular sights and secrets. Marble rays hunting together. Octopuses, tentacles intertwined, in a sort of a love-hate dance. Mantis shrimp peeking out from its coral den. Scorpionfish in perfect camouflage waiting for its prey. Turtles gorging themselves silly on sponges. Sweetlips hanging out under overhangs. Moray eels getting spruced up by banded coral cleaner shrimps. Shoals of glassfish darting in and out of a wreck. Feather starfish climbing over hard corals. Stingrays swimming in and out of camera range. Schools of bannerfish, yellowback fusiliers, batfish, red snappers just going about their day underwater. And a liveabord full of happy divers. ‘Coz you just couldn’t ask for a better diving holiday destination than the Maldives.