Scuba diving or at least underwater adventure is a hobby that can be enjoyed by the whole family. While there are age restrictions on Scuba Diving certifications, depending on the certifying organization, today children of all ages can take part to some degree of exploring the underwater world.
In case you feel age can restrict your scuba diving sessions, here is a fact that will boost up your enthusiasm. The Guinness Book record for the oldest scuba diver is held by Wallace Raymond Woolley who completed a dive in a shipwreck at the ripe age of 94 years. So even if you are a late starter, there is nothing to prevent you from going for the recreational dives.
The Benefits of SCUBA
Like any other sports activity, scuba diving offers many benefits and then some more. The thrill and excitement of scuba diving and the sense of adventure that is brought is an adrenaline-boosting experience that can provide the perfect holiday or the break from work. In addition, there are multiple benefits of scuba diving in terms of health and wellbeing. It has multiple benefits on the mind and body, whether one is a recreational diver or a professional diver. Some of these are listed below will help you realize that the good effects of scuba diving go much beyond making you feel great or help you unwind and relax.
Strength and agility: As we all know, swimming is a great exercise and when one is swimming underwater the resistance offered by the water makes it a great session of resistance training. The movement again water currents and the process of maneuvering one’s body through it make diving a great session of exercise and core strength building for anyone. The constant movement of the body also helps in enhancing the overall fitness levels of an individual. One of the best advantages of diving is that an individual does not feel the strain of the workout as it is the part of the entire exciting activity.
- Breathing exercise: The breathing pattern of a diver while breathing from his air tank is slow and deep. This pattern of breathing is helps in reducing the heart beat rate and an overall steady breathing pattern which results in a calm state of mind. This is a pattern which is quite similar to various breathing patterns recommended by Yoga to bring about health benefits. This is also beneficial for overall health of the lungs and has in some cases helped people with conditions like asthma. So as you can see that scuba diving is one unique activity that can provide you physical activity along with a meditative state of mind.
- Lower blood pressure levels: As the body comes in contact with the cold water multiple things happen. There is a general adrenaline rush due to the excitement and the contraction of the surface blood vessel to preserve the core temperature of the body. This might result in an initial rise in heart beat and blood pressure, but once the diver progresses the temperatures settle and the steady breathing patterns tend to reduce bold pressure levels. But for those who already have high blood pressure, it is best to take medical advice before going for a scuba diving session.
- Water as a healer: The long term divers can always speak about the fact that how water, the largest building element in this planet as well as in our bodies can have a great healing effect on the entire human system. The diving sessions tend to enhance moods and bring about happiness resulting in a sense of security and well being. So diving can be extremely beneficial and a holistic wellness session for an individual.
- Exposure to nature: The great variety of marine life that a diver can observe can bring about a profound feeling of being close to nature in him or her. I am sure you have seen the brightly coloured marine lives in various movies which can be truly awe inspiring. The closeness to the variety of colourful marine life that a diver can experience is not only beneficial to his own mood but also inculcates the deep sense of living in harmony with nature and the need for maintaining an ecological balance in him. In our busy lives, diving can provide the missing element of being in contact with a natural environment.
- Stress reliever: It is no doubt that diving is a great stress reliever. A diver is immersed in his own world concentrating at the environment in which he is without the worries and troubles of the outside world filtering in his mind. This has multiple benefits, giving the body and mind to realign themselves totheir natural and normal states by shaking off various issues that bind the mind down. So once you come out of the dive, there is no doubt that your mind will feel refreshed and will be brimming with positive energy.
- Socializing: Sharing a diving holiday is a great way to spend time with friends and family but if you are going alone, it is also a good way to meet and mix with like minded people. Going together for a dive with a buddy or a partner is a great way to work as a team with someone who loves the sport as well. This is why divers share the experiences together and bond well with each other in many get together sessions. In case you are eager to make new friends and meet new people, diving is the right adventure sport for you.
A Few Suggestions for Kids
There is no age requirement to snorkel or skin dive. And if you are planning any kind of dive trip to well-known reef or other dive locations, there are always great opportunities to snorkel. The key to getting your kids to have fun with snorkeling or skin diving is to build their confidence and get comfortable with equipment.
The best place to do this is in the bathtub believe it or not. Kids will get a kick out of this and have opportunity to get used to the feel of the mask on their faces and how to breathe through the snorkel. Then once you arrive at your dive destination, take a few spins in the hotel pool first. Again the pool will afford a great opportunity to raise your kid’s confidence level, in a clear fear- free environment. Kids will feel safer snorkelling in a pool where there are no waves, there are walls for boundaries, and no fear of what may be “lurking” below them.
Into the Blue
Once you get out into the open water with your now proud skin diver, still select a site for snorkelling that is calm, with minimal waves. For the young snorkelers even who may be strong swimmers, it is a good idea to have them use water wings or other floatation devices, this way they are not using up too much of their energy just staying afloat on the surface before they slide under for a dive.
Types of Scuba
Popping up in many dive locations that are giving kids even as young as four an almost “real” Scuba experience and the thrill of a lifetime are two relatively new concepts called SASY and SNUBA. SASY stands for Supplied Air Snorkelling for Youth. It was invented by father and dive enthusiast Wayne Hasser who wanted his young children to have a chance to share in his love for diving, with an experience closer to Scuba than merely snorkelling. The SASY system which can be used by children 5 and up is basically a combination of a BC (buoyancy compensator) and a life vest. The SASY vest has been designed with foam pads and equipped to hold a lightweight Pony bottle of air in a pouch on the back. The child does use a regulator but the vest keeps the child from going below snorkelling depth.
SNUBA which you can also find at many dive resorts is a system that can be used by children as young as 4 years old. Snuba is a shallow dive system that is kind of cross between Scuba and Skin diving. A “Snuba” diver is tethered by a 20 foot air hose attached to a standard scuba tank that follows his or her movements beneath the surface on a raft floating above. The system uses a vest similar to the SASY system that allows the snuba diver to stay near the surface or dive as deep as the line will allow.
Apart from the sense of peace and joy that is derived from the experience of diving, the multiple extra benefits can really make it a special activity suitable for most people. As described above, the various intermediary systems are great ways to get your kids introduced to the wonderful world of scuba diving. As they get older and can become certified divers as teens, Scuba can be a great activity that keeps families closer together and can teach kids responsibility for the maintenance of their gear, their personal safety and the safety of others, and at the same time gain an appreciation for conservation and the underwater world.