Snorkeling is one of the most fun ways to see the beauty of the underwater world without having to leave the surface of the water. It’s a staple activity for those who vacation to island getaways, and believe it or not, it’s a great way to stay healthy and fit!
Here are the Top 10 Health Benefits of Snorkeling by author of the fitness book ReSYNC Your Life, Samir Becic and his HFR team.
- Improves breathing: Snorkeling increases your maximal oxygen uptake, a good indicator of aerobic fitness. Breathing through a tube involves some resistance and requires greater exertion than free breathing. Snorkelers regulate in and out breaths evenly through the mouth, effectively engaging in a breathing exercise.
- Overall fitness: Snorkeling is a recreational pastime that can help to motivate, tone and trim you. It works out quads, hamstrings, calves, ankles, hip flexors, core and shoulders. Snorkeling itself improves overall strength and endurance, reduces stress and burns about 300 calories an hour.
- Cardiovascular health: Snorkeling is also 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. Snorkeling also helps you build greater lung capacity when you are forced to hold your breath underwater for sustained periods of time.
- Joint mobility: Like any water-based exercise, snorkeling has the added benefit of providing healthy exercise to those with joint pain, stiffness or obesity problems. 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 snorkeling as a means of kick-starting your exercise program. Once you regain some mobility, you can move on to other exercises or increase the frequency and intensity of your snorkeling workout.
- Mental health: Exercise, including snorkeling, can help relieve stress and anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. The controlled mouth breathing required of snorkelers is similar to many of the meditative breathing techniques that seek to relax and calm the body. Snorkeling regularly may help you feel more calm and at ease through simple relaxation.
- Overcome risk factors: Snorkeling is great for overcoming a fear of diving. Since you don’t have to go deep and you can stand up at anytime, it is a great introduction to what wearing a mask and breathing through your nose feels like. If at any time you feel claustrophobic, just stand up!
- Better mood: Like all cardiovascular exercise, snorkeling has been shown to release endorphins that elevate mood. Snorkelers must practice controlled breathing in a rhythm similar to that used in many forms of meditation, which can calm the body and promote general relaxation.
- Perfecting performance: Using a snorkel while training for or learning an aquatic sport can spark dramatic improvements in a short time. 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 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.
Not tough on body: The buoyancy of water eases joint pain and stiffness, facilitating workouts to improve flexibility and endurance. The Wolters Kluwer Health Clinic recommends swimming for people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing sponditis, 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.
- Connects you with nature: Snorkeling allows you to encounter the most colorful creatures on earth. Watching their natural habitat and observing their behavior can be very helpful for patients who suffer from anxiety disorders and ADHD.