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Does scuba diving burn calories and make you fit?

What if you could do your favorite hobby and lose weight? Though diving may not really count as a sport- after all you are trying to avoid strenuous effort and getting out of breath- it is a great way to stay fit and burn calories.

The beauty of it is that its low impact, easy on joints and muscles, yet gives you the benefits and calories burned of much more hardcore sports. Scientists surmise that scuba diving for an hour burns between 400 to 700 calories-, perhaps more in colder waters or difficult conditions.

scuba diving coral Nusa Penida
Burning calories whilst having fun

1. Movement- Scuba diving does make you move, if slowly!

Though scuba diving has the ‘minimal effort approach’ (‘politique du moindre effort’ as we say in French), meaning that the better the diver, the lesser the exertion and movement. Divers try to move as little and as slowly as possible to conserve air and be efficient in the water. However, the good news is the effort of movement during diving is still sufficient to burn calories, increase heart rate and tone muscles. Being new to diving or diving in currents or swell will mean extra exertion and extra fitness.

Main factors :

· New to diving– have not learnt to be economical and efficient with movement, struggling with buoyancy

· Going fast/ finning hard– the faster you go the more calories are burned ( but also the more air used)

· Effort - helping student divers, planting coral, collecting sunken objects, etc.

· The weight and drag of the wetsuit – more effort to compensate

· Current -readjusting position, finning/maneuvering through the water.

· Water temperature – three dives a day even in tropical waters can burn up to 900 extra calories

2. Cold: Scuba diving means using energy to fight the chill

Staying warm is a big part of the energy we use. For instance, in a normal temperate climate, we need 2000 to 2500 calories approximately a day to stay healthy but in artic conditions where our body is working really hard to stay warm we need at least four times as many. The creation of warmth within the body is called 'thermogenesis' and uses up more energy than any other bodily process. The colder the waters you dive in, the more calories you will burn (15 minutes in cold water is equivalent to 1 hour on the treadmill). However, as mentioned above, water conducts heat away from the body way more efficiently than air. Even in warm seas, your body will start fighting the chill after a while and use energy by doing so (and thus calories). Imagine the calories burned when diving Manta Point, Nusa Penida, in 20-degree water in July!

3. Gearing up before diving is also part of the workout

As we all know putting on your wetsuit is the hardest part of diving; you will exert energy doing this, then setting up your tank, lifting your buddy’s tank to help him don his dive gear, carrying your scuba tank to the shore/boat/ entry point, then exiting the water (up a ladder? Through surf?) and then carrying your soggy dive bag. The before-and-after of diving will get you fit , and, if you have to carry tanks, you’ll quickly see your arm muscles get toned.

4. Off-gassing nitrogen after diving uses energy.

An element that is little mentioned in energy exertion in diving is off-gassing. It explains in part the tiredness often felt after diving: your body is still working hard to get rid of the excess nitrogen.

manta ray scuba diving Nusa Penida
Getting this close to a manta ray will pump your adrenaline!

5. Excitement and fear when diving will pump your metabolism too

If you tend to get excited or maybe slightly scared when you dive, the good news is this also helps burn calories. The release of adrenaline increases our metabolic rate and we can burn up to a third more calories than we normally do. So if you were debating whether to do that manta ray/ shark/ strong current dive, here is another good reason to go, you’ll effectively be losing weight!

We’ve discussed before the emotional and mental benefits of diving, and we all agree that diving generally makes us happy, well now we know diving it can also make us fit and slim! What’s not to love?


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