Usually we get asked “What does Scuba diving offer to Wounded Veterans that can help them?”
Scuba Diving is an enjoyable and adrenaline boosting sport and is met with either excitement or fear. Most people do not know the reality of Scuba due to Hollywood portraying it in such inconsistent way, you are either happily swimming along finding treasure and partying or getting eaten alive by a shark… Sure you can find treasure, any treasure found on our dives belongs to me and cannot be taken away or shared, and diving with sharks is probably one of the coolest experiences you will ever have if you do it and no you will not get eaten. Scuba diving is not only a very active sport but it offers many health benefits most people don’t know about! As long as you follow the safe diving procedures you will have the time of your life on each and every single dive you make. So with that said, lets get down to our Top 10 Benefits of Scuba Therapy.
When we breathe throughout a dive, we tend to breathe slowly and deeply, similar to the breathing we do while meditating or relaxing right before an afternoon nap. Slowed breathing induces a state of calm, which allows you to enjoy your underwater surroundings in an almost surreal state of being. Everything that may be happening to the person in their everyday lives including; depression, work issues, family issues and money worries all get left at the surface. All problems are forgotten during a dive, no seriously it’s like a miracle brain reset. Humans are not built to breathe underwater, it goes against everything about our structure which allows this brain reset to take place. The second you slap a regulator and mask on you focus on breathing, something that is so unthought of at the surface. Just that switch alone allows your brain to let go of everything that it was holding onto in a split second. Throw in actually being weightless underwater and swimming with gorgeous fish and you my friend have the best stress medicine on the planet, scuba! Studies have shown that having a relaxed and calm mind has been known to promote a positive mental attitude, helping you deal with your issues in a calm and rational way without feelings of depression, say goodbye to the PTSD meds gents.
Let’s face it, most vets are terrible at socializing. When I first got out if you weren’t military I wasn’t talking to you, period. After I pulled my head out from my butt after some painful years of loneliness I realized how awkward it was for me to meet new people. Scuba diving takes care of all of that for you! When you go diving, if you are not already diving with a partner, you are paired up with a buddy, if you aren’t I would suggest to go find a different dive operator immediately. These people are usually like-minded individuals who share a common interest, and yes you will meet a ton of other military veterans all over the world. Whenever you are on a dive boat or diving from shore, it is always easy to make friends and meet new people. It is also very easy to feel a sense of community when scuba diving and often go out after your dives (stand by for your weekend safety brief, please drink responsibly). It gives a wonderful feeling after having an incredible experience during a dive and being able to share it with your fellow divers/veterans.
The water has many healing effects, one of which is the way it creates a weightless environment. This promotes your body being able to uncompress and relieve tension on the back and joints and allow the blood to circulate better throughout our cardiovascular system. 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 water after the dive which means that you are replenishing your cells, receiving all of the benefits of water both externally and internally.
Breathing while diving is slow and deep, which conserves and optimizes your air consumption rates and as you progress in your Scuba career will gain you more bottom time. During a dive, you breathe slower which reduces the heart rate, promoting calm state of being. Steady breathing also reduces the risk of a lung-expansion injury as well as reduces mucus build up and has actually been known to help with existing conditions such as asthma.
When first diving into the water, a divers heart rate might spike and the blood pressure will rise slightly, this may be due to excitement, adrenaline and even the cold water. For the majority of dives, we usually find ourselves in water which is lower than our body temperature. When our body is immersed in cold water, our blood vessels on the surface of our bodies tend to constrict to conserve heat for our internal organs, which may cause our hearts to race. Once we warm up throughout the dive, our heart rate reduces as well as our blood pressure. The slow and deep breathing technique that we learn to do during our open water dive course can help lower your blood pressure and keep you calm throughout the dive. If you suffer with high blood pressure, then seek the advice of a medical professional before attempting to scuba dive.
Let’s start off by saying Scuba diving will not make you the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now that you know you wont become the next bodybuilding champion of the world, before we dive, a diver should already have a good level of fitness so as to not exert the body too much throughout a dive. However, Scuba Diving can be quite unpredictable and because of this, you may find yourself swimming against the current for a short amount of time, this repetitive movement of the legs against the resistance of the water can help to maintain as well as increase your fitness levels (after all it will at least help burn off the calories from the beer and cocktails after the day of diving)!
Now this one is huge and is because of a combination of multiple benefits of Scuba diving. Not all pain is relieved however there is a significant relief of a lot of pain that comes as you dive. Thats right, Scuba diving is better than Motrin guys (which recently has been causing issues in mens nether regions)! My back is wrecked, 7 herniated discs wrecked to be exact, and as you may or may not have guessed it my knees and ankles are blown out too (1,2,3,4 United States Marine Corps!). All day I hear cracks and pops and I just hurt, everywhere. The second my body hits that water and the weightlessness kicks in I feel like a million bucks. The more dives I do in a day the better I feel and the longer that pain relief stays. Now I am not going to lie to you and say you will be cured and never have pain, the reality is that Scuba diving actively really does help decrease the daily pain and also the need for the pain meds. I know everyone reacts differently but there is a common theme with divers with back and joint problems that once you’re in the water you feel like you can jump out of a C-130 again and go and crush a 300 on your PFT, get some!
8. Marine Life
When exploring the marine life surrounding you on your dive, your body is flooded with excitement, wonder, adrenaline, etc. Seeing the sheer variety of fish, corals and critters is enough to put anyone in a good mood, especially in the Caribbean. However, it has in fact been proven that seeing certain colors can affect the brain in many different ways such as helping to change and improve your mood. Scientists believe that if we are subjected to bright and intense colors, similar to what we might find surrounding reefs, can help to promote feelings of happiness as well as feeling of being uplifted. In addition, the color blue has been known to induce a calming effect on the body and the blues here in the Caribbean are some of the best!
It is essential for the body to be exposed to sunlight, this is in order to create Vitamin D (no, that’s not what “she” said…). Vitamin D not only helps the rate of absorption of calcium, it also helps the cells pass calcium to each other. This higher absorption rate of calcium helps to keep the bones healthy and strong. Exposure to sunlight also helps to increase endorphin production within our brains. Unless you are from Washington state and are allergic to the sun, everyone knows that amazing warm and fuzzy feeling they get when they feel the sun rays hitting your body, doesn’t hurt when you are knocking back a cocktail after 3 dives on a white sand beach surrounded by beautiful people in skimpy bathing suits too!
If you are one of those rare people who enjoy being miserably cold there are places you can do cold water diving, however usual dives include traveling to warmer parts of the globe. With warmer parts of the world comes vacation, adventure, excitement and experiences, which can only do great things for your body, mind and soul. The beauty about Scuba is that you can travel all over the world and since 71% of the globe is water the playground is unlimited!
Gift these benefits to a Wounded Veteran today by donating to Warfighter Scuba.Donate Now!
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