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The Health Benefits And Risks Of Freediving

Freediving was originally a practice to provide food for communities. Nowadays, it’s also considered an extreme sport because divers explore the depths without an air tank. The thrill allures many people to try it. So, it’s not surprising to find several scuba diving schools around the globe to cater to these adventure-seeking clients.  

Freediving provides many benefits, but divers may be prone to certain risks. You can maximize the fun in such an activity if you know its dangers. Keep reading to learn the best things you can reap and the hazards to look out for from this exciting marine sport.

Benefits Of Freediving

  1. Oxygen Efficiency

Since freedivers don’t use scuba tanks, they must learn to hold their breath for extended periods. It’s uncomfortable and scary to do at first. But, if you continue practicing, your body will slowly get used to it and learn how to manage your blood oxygen levels efficiently. You’ll eventually find yourself diving deeper and staying underwater for longer intervals. 

Freediving schools will help improve their students’ cardio endurance so they can control how they use the oxygen they hold. They’ll also provide training for discomfort, which teaches the mind to endure rising carbon dioxide levels when freediving. Pushing your mind and body’s limits in a controlled environment is the best way to reduce rising to the surface for air and increase time spent exploring.

  1. Stress-Relief

Most diving spots around the world offer gorgeous, scenic underwater views you’ll never find on land. It’s why many recreational divers enjoy diving in the first place. Something is calming about seeing an underwater world full of beauty and life.  

Some people consider freediving as a form of meditation. Freedivers can explore freely without the weight and complexities of a tank pulling them down. Holding your breath also slows down your heart rate. If you follow safety precautions, expect to feel less stressed after every dive session. 

The best part of freediving is that the effects of mental clarity last long after you’ve resurfaced. So, if you constantly feel stressed, freediving may help you find calmness and relief.

  1. Physical Fitness

Swimming and diving are excellent activities to enhance physical fitness. They’re a great way to strengthen your joints, in particular. Unlike land sports that could put unnecessary pressure on joints, freediving reduces limb swelling and allows an improved range of motion. You’ll have the hydrostatic pressure found underwater to thank for that. It’s also why some arthritis patients are encouraged to swim as exercise.  

It doesn’t seem like flexibility is a critical asset for freedivers. But they need a flexible diaphragm and rib cage to take bigger, deeper breaths. So, when you take freediving lessons, expect to practice stretches to improve your thoracic muscles’ flexibility.

  1. Body Composition

Freediving is a full-body exercise. You may be spending time underwater, but the constant use of your limbs and muscles to move will manifest itself eventually. As a result of frequent freediving, you could have a toned body, just like Olympic swimmers and high divers.  

If you lack motivation at the gym, freediving is an excellent alternative for getting in shape outdoors. You won’t even feel like you’ve spent time exercising.

Risks Of Freediving

  1. Blackout

There’s a good reason why beginners should take their lessons seriously. Blackouts are fatal issues that you could prevent if you know the symptoms. Unfortunately, many freedivers think that if their diving buddy responds with an OK sign while resurfacing, they’re no longer at risk of blackouts. 

When the brain lacks oxygen, you slowly start to lose consciousness. Many blackouts often occur near the surface, around 15 feet underwater, or anywhere with sudden pressure changes. You can drown if you experience it. Hence, it’s crucial to learn proper breathing techniques and avoid hyperventilating before taking a deep breath.

  1. Barotrauma

Barotrauma is another pressure-related freediving risk. A diver’s ears, eyes, lungs, and sinuses are the most affected areas when one suffers from this issue. You’ll know if you have it if you start to feel discomfort on one of the parts above. You’ll sometimes have mild to severe hemorrhages or vein ruptures. 

Equalizing is a skill that all divers should learn, which involves blowing out a small amount of air through the nostrils. The practice refills the volume of your mask, so the ambient pressures in your body and the water’s depth are the same. For this reason, divers recommend wearing low-volume masks with a nose pocket over others. Freedivers who don’t equalize their masks frequently are the most prone to having barotrauma.

  1. Decompression Sickness

Some people experience decompression sickness (DCS) while freediving, which happens when the body has a high nitrogen content due to the rising pressure while diving deeper. DCS is dangerous because the nitrogen that turns into bubbles could block or damage your blood vessels. The result can range from mild pain to death.  

Joint pain is one of the common symptoms of DCS. Others include numbness, fatigue, loss of hearing or consciousness, chest pain, and headaches. If you or your buddy experiences it, resurface immediately and administer pure oxygen. Drinking one liter of isotonic water per hour can also reduce its effects.

  1. Environmental Risks

Mother Nature is a formidable force, and every freediver knows it can harm the careless without any effort. Weather and temperature changes, tides, and marine wildlife are some factors out of your control. When you push yourself against them, you may risk getting injured or drowning. Thus, if the environment isn’t viable for a dive, it’s best to try on another day.

Fun And Safety Go Hand In Hand

Freediving can be rewarding if you’re aware of the possible risks that you can encounter. So, before you venture into the deep seas, get enough training and listen to your dive coaches. They know what’s best to protect you as you explore what’s under the waves.

Note:- Please consult your medical expert before following any guide mentioned.

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