Most snorkelers are always cautious about the kind of equipment they carry or use for this awesome recreational activity. From the amount the perfect mask for the best field of view to the length and comfort of fins, these factors are consistently monitored to ensure everything goes according to plan and that we look cool and trendy. Right? However, while we focus on all these, we often ignore the most important components of breathing, i.e., the heart, lungs, and muscular endurance and strength of our limbs. Perhaps, we tend to forget how indispensable these aspects are in our quest for a safe and awesome snorkeling experience.
Staying safe involves the need to use the right gear, as well as knowing how to handle that gear with competence and ease. Plainly said: If your body doesn’t know how, or have the ability, to swim naturally well, then all the gear in the world can’t fix that.
When these are in place, we are in for a greater and safer snorkeling and diving experience, with extra stamina that could permit us to enjoy a full day of underwater amazement.
We have handpicked some tested and proven tips that will ensure that you have a safe and fun snorkeling experience.
Perfect Fitness Tips to be the Best Snorkeler You Can Be
Taking short walks
According to studies, people that engage in short walks of 30 minutes or more daily, would weigh about 20 pounds less in midlife, relative to people that do not engage in regular workouts. Another research suggested that the risk of heart disease – a potential killer of all recreational experience (diving and snorkeling included) – is lowered by half in regular exercisers. You can also shed fat and improve your heart when you walk for just 10 minutes thrice daily.
As in football – where the game is preceded by a short, but thorough warm-up sessions to get the body loose and ready – a little bit of easy calisthenics and swimming is necessary before snorkeling. Why is this necessary? This ‘practice session’ helps to get the blood flowing while lubricating your joints and muscles. Thus, you can easily fit into your snorkels, and move up and down the ladder quickly.
The pre-swimming session should not be too strenuous – a few simple air squats, push-ups against a wall, twisting the torso left and right while putting the hands on the hips are enough to do the trick. While at it, take note of the tight spots in your body and stretch them a bit. After two minutes of this simple exercising, your muscles and joints should be ready to take on the ‘real game.’
Building your muscles
Losing lean muscle as we age is normal. The implication of this, however, is a drop in the available strength coupled with more accumulated fat (muscle contributes to the breakdown of calories in the body). Body fat is a known enemy of the snorkeling experience, which is why you should replace lean muscle tissue as much as you can while shedding the body fat. This can be easily achieved with the right strength training exercises. For instance, doing the four workout options listed below in three sets of 10 repetitions every week will give you the much-needed change.
- Simple Squat – Stand while holding dumbbells at your two sides. Then squat down like you are sitting in a chair until you have your thighs parallel to the floor. Note that your knees must not pass your toes. Repeat this process from the start.
- Chest Press – Keep the dumbbells over your chest while lying on your back and your arms extended. Then lower them (the dumbbells) until your chest, and upper arms are on the same line. Return to start.
- Bent-over-row – Hold the dumbbells and while standing, bend forward from your hips and continue until your back and the floor are parallel, with your arms hanging down and palms back. Then pull the weight to your chest, and closer.
- Criss-cross Crunch – While lying on your back and knees bent 90 degrees, ensure that your legs are up, such that the calves are parallel to the floor. With your hands placed at the back of your head, lift your right shoulder off the floor and curl toward your left knee, while simultaneously extending your right leg. Then switch sides and repeat.
Taking more liquids
Snorkeling can be difficult without proper hydration. Thus, a few days before you plan to go on swimming, it is recommended that you drink half your body weight in ounces. Types of liquid allowed? All fluids work fine, but water is the best, while booze is an absolute NO-GO.
Note that too much liquid can be detrimental also. Taking one or two beers or similar adult beverages can improve the heart, but going more than two bottles can harm your body, except you do not plan to swim or snorkel soon. Although alcohol can be an excellent dehydrating agent, too much of it can affect the ability of your brain to detect thins. And considering how sensitive the snorkeling experience is, you don’t want anything that could mess with your reasoning, not to mention putting you under the risk for cardiac death.
Stretching the Feet
Foot cramps arising from snorkeling are not only painful and a safety issue but also capable of preventing you from snorkeling any time soon. How to avoid this? ‘Toe grabs’ is the solution – a simple movement that strengthens and the stretches the supporting muscles of the arch, thus reducing the risk of fatigue and cramp and making you fit for your next snorkeling. Best results can be achieved when practiced twice weekly.
- Doing a toe grab – while on your bare feet, grab a sock with the toes of your right foot, and without moving the heel, lift the sock off the floor. Keep it suspended for a second, and release. Repeat the process for the other foot once the first foot fatigues.
Strengthening the Core
You just cannot snorkel very well with weak back and ab muscles, especially if you are the type that stays longer bowed like a U. However, these pains can be prevented by doing a couple of ab crunches which strengthens the muscles that support your torso. Full protection is achieved by flipping over and working your spine supporters through their entire possible motion range.
Taking Deep Breaths
Yoga is one of the best means of improving breathing capacity and lung function. However, such benefits can be enjoyed without practicing yoga. Stretch your chest muscles, and this, in turn, opens the chest cavity. Deep breathing also expands the active lung capacity. Another method involves raising your arms out to your sides before pulling them back as far as possible. While maintaining that position, take about six deep full breaths, and then relax. Repeat.
Calming Your Calves
Painful cramps while snorkeling tends to find their way to the calves more than any other part of the body. Thus, it is recommended to keep those muscles calm with a simple workout. When the calves are stronger, finning becomes easier, and the muscles, when fit, aid circulation. In the end, you are less prone to cramping.
One of such simple work out is the “seated” calf raise. Here, you lean against the wall while bending your legs at 90 degrees, then rise slowly onto the balls of your feet. Once up, lower yourself slowly until you can feel your heels on the floor. Stop once your calves fatigue, and end it with good stretching.
Determining Your Risk Level
Most of the half or in-water swimming casualties have resulted from heart diseases. You can know your risk of heart disease, before proceeding to snorkel, using the National Institute of Health’s Heart Attack Risk Calculator. If the calculated risk reads less than 10%, you are cleared to snorkel, but anything higher means you need to consult the physician. The calculator can be found on the institute’s website – www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
Eating Well and Right
Staying in the water while snorkeling for about an hour takes away about 500 calories from you. Right before the first swim of the day, take some banana, a whole grain toast, or other slow-burning carbs. After the swim, Gatorade and other sports drink will replenish your glycogen (carb) reserve, while rehydrating your system.
Conditioning Your Brain
Snorkeling requires gear assessment and a few high-pressure problems that warrant instant solutions; thus mental fitness is a prerequisite. By visualizing all possible swimming situations, you can condition your brain on how best to respond to them. You can also do quick assessments at strategic points during the swim. The periodic check of yourself, friends, gears, and the surrounding is important, likewise short relaxation and deep breaths. Once you are sure of no hitches, you can swim on.
Frequenting the Pool
Snorkeling in the pool means you spend more time submerged, thus it is a means of preparing you for the real situation. You can check the available swimming sessions at a local community pool close to you. Other benefits include strengthened lungs and heart, increased rate of calorie burning – about 600 calories/hr.
Ultimate Tips to Get in Shape before Snorkeling
Apart from all these, try to go for a walk on a regular basis as well.
So, these are five tips for you which will help you get in shape before your vacay! Hopefully, this blog was helpful for you all.
-Ken & Lizzy