Freediving is all about testing the limits of your physical and mental capabilities. It proves that nothing is impossible and that even humans can overcome their natural limitations and briefly join the underwater world. As a freediver, you can experience an unprecedented level of freedom of movement. However, in order to become one, you need serious mental and physical preparation.
While liberating, freediving is also a very strenuous activity. It requires that you have a significant level of physical fitness. Diving to extreme depths, adapting to low oxygen and the body’s process of thermoregulation are all extremely energy-consuming activities. Despite often being perceived as the lazy man’s sport, freediving burns a lot of calories.
Freediving is a dangerous sport. Nevertheless, it has numerous health benefits and it engages both your body and mind. It is a peaceful activity that allows you to truly reconnect with your inner self. In the absence of stimuli such as light or sound, you feel weightless and free.
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Is freediving a good exercise?
Freediving is one of the best forms of exercise. It trains both your body and mind. There are plenty of health benefits of freediving, so let’s dive straight into some of them.
#1 Freediving relieves stress and anxiety
Contrary to popular belief, freediving is not a sport that is fuelled by adrenaline. If you are pumped up on adrenaline, your breath will become shallow and short. Feeling short of breath is not safe when freediving.
In order to go freediving, you need to learn how to relax and control your breathing. You need to be in control of your body so that your heart rate can lower too. This will make your freediving experience longer and more enjoyable.
The best part about freediving is that once you master underwater meditation and relaxation techniques, you will see their benefits beyond the water, at home, or at work. You will learn how to stay calm in many stressful and difficult everyday situations.
#2 Freediving improves focus and clears the mind
Freediving helps you learn how to focus only on the present moment. This is primarily due to the fact that freedivers need to focus on equalization and oxygen management. Freediving helps you clear your mind and leave your worries and distractions on land. When you free dive, you need to focus on safety first and that is why your mind has to be clear from unimportant distractions.
#3 Freediving increases water safety and boosts confidence
Panic is an arch-enemy of water safety. When panic sets in, freediving becomes a potentially dangerous activity. Once you learn how to relax in the water, you will feel safer, whether you are freediving, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, paddleboarding, or doing any other water sport.
When you learn to free dive you learn how not to panic when you have a cramp, or lose a mask or a fin. Here you can also learn how to store freediving fins and keep them intact. Once you overcome panic and fear, you will be able to dive deeper than you ever thought was possible.
Freediving is all about getting out of your comfort zone. It will show you how farther from your self-imposed limitations you can actually go. This will boost your confidence not only when it comes to freediving, but also when it comes to all other areas of your life.
#4 Freediving improves your level of fitness and flexibility
Whenever you take a deep breath underwater, you stretch your upper body muscles, including your abdominal muscles and your rib cage. Freediving also strengthens your body and increases endurance and vitality. Your joints will also benefit from freediving, as they will experience less pressure underwater.
The weightlessness of freediving can increase your body’s overall mobility and help you have a full range of motion. Gym work and doing yoga can significantly help you build your level of fitness needed for freediving. You are interested in strength exercise and want to know if rock climbing is better than weight lifting? You can read all about it in our article.
Freediving means moving constantly. Even when you let the gravity do its work during free fall, you often need to kick strong and hard so it’s great resistance training for the muscles too.
#5 Freediving is good for the lungs
Freediving increases your lung capacity and helps you breathe more efficiently. An average person is not used to using their lungs to full capacity. During freediving training, you learn how to inhale a full breath, as well as how to fully exhale.
Freediving improves overall respiratory health. It has a positive effect on respiratory muscles, as well as lung capacity and elasticity. Once you start breathing more efficiently, your whole body benefits from that. In addition to lung elasticity, freediving increases the elasticity of arteries and arterioles, which positively affects the heart, too.
If you want to learn how to increase breath-hold for freediving, check out our article.
#6 Freediving opens the door to the wonderful marine world
As opposed to scuba diving which can startle marine life with the bubbles, freediving seems less threatening to underwater sea life. This gives you, a fellow marine friend, an opportunity to come closer to some of the most magnificent sea creatures, such as dolphins.
The underwater world is another world altogether and you have to abide by its principles. In return, it will reward you with both poignant and mind-blowing encounters with the inhabitants of this majestic world.
Freediving gives you a better insight into the variety of marine life. It also educates you about the importance of marine life conservation. Finally, free driving is a humbling experience that shows you what a small place you occupy in this world.
Freediving is not a solitary activity. You can go with a partner or a freediving buddy, but you should never free dive alone. These are some of the reasons why you should never solo free dive:
- Blackouts – blackouts can happen to anyone, at any depth and they are usually fatal if a person is alone, due to drowning.
- Lung squeeze – also known as pulmonary barotrauma, can happen in shallow water too. It is extremely painful and dangerous.
- Currents – currents carry the risk of exhaustion and hyperventilation. Vertical currents pose a threat and can drag you down.
- Entanglement – a part of your body can get entangled in a fishing line or net, causing you to start panicking.
Why are freedivers skinny?
Freedivers are typically skinny because diving burns a lot of calories. These are some of the factors that affect how many calories you burn during freediving:
- Speed of movement
- Duration of movement
- The weight of the wetsuit
- Water temperature
With respect to water temperature, the body’s process of thermoregulation burns a lot of calories. The body strives to maintain a core temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Underwater, you are often exposed to temperatures that are significantly lower than this. This puts greater demand on the body’s thermoregulation and consequently, the body burns more calories.
Want to know why cyclists have skinny arms? Read our blog to find the answer.
How many calories does freediving burn exactly?
Does freediving burn calories? According to Terry Mass, from the book ”Freedive!”, freediving burns more calories per minute than any activity other than ax-chopping. According to the scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, the average 175-pound diver burns 1,200 calories per hour.
For comparison’s sake, an average scuba diver in temperate water burns between 400 and 700 calories per hour, similar to jogging. Make sure to also check out our blog if you want to read about how many calories snowboarding and skateboarding burn.
Proper nutrition and healthy eating habits can go a long way, and get you deeper in water when it comes to freediving. Here are some pieces of advice we compiled for you to help you understand why nutrition matters in freediving:
- Give up alcohol and caffeine – without alcohol, you will have a clearer mind, more energy, and more muscle efficiency. Giving up coffee will lower your average heart rate and ensure better hydration.
- Cut down on dairy products – dairy increases the production of mucus and makes it thicker, which creates problems while freediving.
- Eat iron-rich foods – red meat or leafy greens like spinach or kale are important to keep your iron levels up.
- Stay hydrated – it goes hand in hand with the first piece of advice, staying hydrated will make equalization easier and will prevent injuries.
Remember that you eat to dive and optimize your performance. Take your freediving nutrition seriously and avoid large meal portions before getting in the water.
Does freediving cause brain damage?
It is a common misconception that freediving causes brain damage. People are usually afraid of holding their breath, as they believe it leads to brain damage. According to some studies, freediving actually improves cognitive function. All of this is true under normal circumstances when you track your freediving depth and surface intervals. If you don’t do that, you risk severe decompression sickness and brain damage.
There are so many things worth diving for
Freediving burns plenty of calories while also bringing myriads of health benefits to the table. There are also some dangers that it involves. However, if you follow proper guidelines and abide by the underwater rules, it is a perfectly safe activity. We hope that our article has brought you a bit closer to the underwater world and all the benefits that freediving entails.