If you live far from the sea, the only time you hear the word snorkelling is during your holidays. It’s surprising that snorkelling is not a more popular form of exercise. To enjoy snorkelling you just need a mask to see underwater, a snorkel to breathe without lifting your head, and possibly a pair of fins and all of these are fairly inexpensive. Without these, you’re just swimming. And as I dug deeper into this subject, I was amazed to discover 12 health benefits of snorkelling, making this popular water activity one of my most favourite form of exercise.
So if like me you are interested in snorkelling and why it’s good for your body, mind and soul, just carry on reading this blog! Maybe these are enough reasons for you to consider this recreational activity as your main form of exercise. I am lucky enough to live near the coast, in Mallorca, a small village called Puerto Pollensa and I have managed to weave this activity into my weekly exercise routine.
Ready , set, go, in no particular order, here are the 12 health benefits of snorkelling!
1- Strengthens your muscles
Moving through water is no easy task! Whether you have fins or not, snorkelling will require your whole body to put in the effort, in order to propel you forward.
Snorkelling allows you to exercise almost every muscle group, including quads, hamstrings, calves, ankles, hip flexors, core, and shoulders. Water produces resistance to your body that demands strength and stamina in order to move. This entire process is an excellent way to strengthen your muscles. If you snorkel with fins, they add some resistance which your legs have to work against. The type of water you’re snorkelling in will also affect how much it impacts your muscles. Rough water with more waves will require you to make a greater effort to move, which will strengthen your muscles even more. Similarly, it takes more force to move through colder water, and the more you exert your body, the stronger your muscles will become.
2-Helps achieve a better cardio
Sea creatures are constantly on the move from one spot to the next, so you’ll never encounter the same fish, octopus or moray eel. It’s always a unique, exhilarating experience. When you’re snorkelling, you will always be seeking to see something different in the water. This adrenalin rush will cause your heart rate to pump blood faster. Snorkelling is good for your heart, as it increases the heart rate and strengthens the heart muscle. Improved cardiovascular fitness helps decrease the risk of certain health problems, such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
3-Improves your breathing ability
When you’re snorkelling, you’re breathing through a tube and you need to regulate the rate at which you breathe in and out. This limited airflow demands you to breathe more efficiently and calmly than normal. In order to breathe efficiently, it is advisable to take deep long breaths to fully exchange and renew the air in your snorkel with each ventilation cycle. At first, deep breathing may feel unnatural because your body isn’t used to the feeling. This is like a full-on workout for your lungs which improves your oxygen intake and in the long run, will increase your aerobic fitness. A smooth and well-organized underwater breathing increases your lung function and lung capacity.
Improved lung capacity reduces your chances of getting heart diseases and facing other respiratory problems.
Find here a simple deep breathing exercise that will help you for snorkelling but also is particularly efficient at reducing stress:
- Lie on your back on a bed/mat with a pillow under your head, you can also perform it whilst sitting.
- Put one of your hands on your chest, and the other on your belly, so you can feel the movements of your rib cage and diaphragm, respectively
- Inhale with your nose for a count of 4.
- Exhale with your mouth for another count of 5 and keep your lips lightly pursed as if you were blowing a kiss
- Focus on keeping the hand on your chest from moving as little as possible, concentrating your breath on the movement of your diaphragm/belly
4-Improves overall fitness
Not dissimilar to swimming, snorkelling requires you to move through the water. It is a great way to keep in shape, as it works out quads, hamstrings, calves, ankles, hip flexors, core and shoulders, improves oxygen intake, and strengthens your heart muscle. Snorkelling in itself improves overall strength and endurance, reduces stress and burns about 300 calories an hour.
5-It helps you be more relaxed
Snorkelling is one of my most preferred ways of disconnecting from the day to day stresses. The soothing effect of water, the deep slow breathing at the surface and the physical effort of swimming against currents, waves or tides, all add to a total mind and body experience. Popping your head underwater will further relax you as it is all quiet and peaceful below the waves. Exercise, including snorkelling, can help relieve stress and anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. Trust me, you will never realise how free and relaxed you can be until you spend some time underwater observing the fauna and flora.
6-It prevents you from becoming stiff
People with joint pain and weight problems sometimes find it difficult to perform regular cardiovascular exercises when they are on land. Snorkelling doesn’t put too much pressure on your joints and is a great way to get you started and loosen your body up. If you’re dealing with muscle or joint pains, even slowly wading through the water can loosen your body.
Exercising in the water reduces the impact forces generally associated with other cardiovascular exercises like walking and jogging. If you have trouble exercising because of movement restrictions, consider snorkelling to start with your exercise program. The buoyancy of water eases joint pain and stiffness, facilitating workouts to improve flexibility and endurance, once you regain some mobility, you can move on to other more traditional exercises or increase the frequency and intensity of your snorkelling workout.
7-Be in a Better Mood
With all types of exercise including snorkelling, the brain releases copious amounts of endorphins that can elevate your mood. The deep and slow breathing that is practised during snorkelling further helps to relax you and put you in a better mood as well. Finally, it’s a great way to connect with people. Observing marine life, and sharing it with your family and/or friends will give you such a feel-good sense.
8-Overcoming the fear factor
If you fear water, or you are dreading your next dive, snorkelling is a great place to start. You can begin by simply floating in shallow water, and start relaxing in the company of friends or family. If you feel panicked just stand up, catch your breath and try again. Once you have gained a bit more confidence just venture in deeper water, relax and enjoy the snorkelling experience. Snorkelling is helpful in overcoming a fear of diving or water, which is one of the psychological benefits.
9-Enhances athletic performance
Many swimmers or triathletes use a snorkel to build up their capacity to get through the water and the ability to breathe through the mouth. Front-mounted snorkels allow a swimmer to practice body position and arm pulls through the water without worrying about turning or raising the head to breathe. Triathletes, in particular, use the front-mounted snorkel as they work out in the pool with freestyle drills such as side-kick-switch and sculling. The ability to move through the water and to breathe throughout a drill smoothly can build lung and leg strength in a swimmer. When the weather does not allow me to go to sea, I train in an outdoor pool. Find here an amazing underwater workout to enhance your athletic performance.
10-Burn calories to lose weight
Snorkelling will definitely help you burn fat and lose weight. Because you’re mostly working your glutes (the largest muscle in the body) to flutter kick and propel through the sea, you’ll still get a decent calorie burn at 346 calories an hour. Depending on sea conditions and how intensely you snorkel you’ll also use your quads, hamstrings, your arms and shoulders. If you do decide to pop your head beneath the surface and swim a few meters underwater you will be burning even more calories. This is a perfect combination to lose weight. Plus, once underwater you’ll be so mesmerized by the scenery that you won’t get bored, it won’t feel like an obligatory exercise and you’ll want to repeat again and again. So while snorkelling you’ll get to explore incredible areas of the underwater world, you’ll have fun sharing this experience with friends, you’ll take care of your body and lose weight, all in one.
11-Not tough on the body
From age 7 to 97 or 100, snorkelling does not discriminate, there are no strict requirements on physical stamina, skills, and age all you have to do is jump in. I know for sure I intend to keep snorkelling until my 100th birthday or more if my body and mind still allows me to.
Children under parent supervision, as well as the elderly, can snorkel. The Wolters Kluwer Health Clinic recommends swimming for people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, conditions that cause inflammation, limited mobility and shoulder and neck problems. Using a snorkel and mask allows arthritis sufferers to limit painful neck movements so they can stick to an exercise routine. Even non-swimmers and beginners can go snorkelling after a bit of practice.
12-Connect with nature
In our modern way of life, most of us spend too much time sitting indoors, in front of screens, surrounded with artificial light, and totally disconnected with nature.
There are many ways to reconnect with nature, hill walking, mountain climbing, cycling, and snorkelling is also one of them. Getting to see these ocean creatures and plants while snorkelling is a great outdoor activity that not only works the body but tends to free your mind.
Underwater etiquette is compulsory. Whenever you’re snorkelling, just make sure that you don’t try and touch the animals, take some empty shells, damage the coral or pull at the plants. Such actions can be detrimental to the ocean’s ecosystem.
My take on all these benefits
Well, I don’t know about you but I am very convinced that snorkelling is an interesting way of staying healthy and fit, an opportunity to see the beauty of the underwater world and fun activity you can engage with your family during your holidays.
This ticks all the boxes for me and is definitely in my list of activities to propel me to 100.
Take care my friends, until next week.
Smart Living To 100