The pleasure principle
Getting fit for diving isnt all about pain and suffering - for Louise Trewavas its quite the opposite. Here she gets together with fitness experts and some of the UKs top divers to explain why diving in peak condition is safer and more satisfying, and what you can do about it. You might not get a six-pack, but you can have fun trying!

src= Pleasure Principle
Diving Fitness Facts
How divers handle fitness
Top myths about fitness
Assess yourself, then act
Bab Gibsons SCUBA work-out
Core fitness - taking care of your back

DIVING IS ONE OF THOSE SPORTS - like darts, golf or snooker - where being a bit of a couch potato appears to present no barrier to taking part. Spending an hour in the pub for every 10 minutes under water is a celebrated part of dive culture, and John Bantins latest exercise video, Fin your Way to Fitness - the Ultimate Hip and Thigh Workout, failed to take the world of scuba by storm.
ÂÂÂÂAre we a bunch of hopeless bloaters And why should we care
ÂÂÂÂThe three most common new years resolutions are to lose weight, get fit, and give up smoking. But for most people, once the hangover wears off the resolutions are quietly shelved.
Diving is no different. At the start of the season, your equipment has mysteriously spread itself to the four corners of the house, a spider has taken up residence in your snorkel and your drysuit appears to have shrunk a size. All those promises to service your regulator, practise your skills in the pool and get yourself dive-fit have fallen by the wayside - you had more interesting things to do with your time.
ÂÂÂÂIts not as if scuba is like running the marathon. The most effort youre likely to expend is loading your kit onto a boat and hauling yourself out of the water at the end of the dive. So why the fuss about fitness
ÂÂÂÂBeing sensible isnt a major motivating factor in my life. Im into fitness for pleasure. I enjoy exercising, I like how it feels to be fit, and - the inevitable vanity factor - I like how it looks.
ÂÂÂÂA great spin-off is that I feel confident wielding huge amounts of dive gear about. I feel comfortable on the dives, and I can enjoy the experience rather than struggling along.
ÂÂÂÂIts the end of a great days diving and the skipper is heading back into harbour. Youve stowed your gear, and settle back to discuss your adventures with your fellow-divers.
ÂÂÂÂThe sun breaks through the clouds, and someone hands you a mug of tea. What a fantastic feeling!
ÂÂÂÂThats the feeling you get when youre relaxing in the shower after exercising hard. If you need some motivation, just try running on the machine at the gym while watching Denise Lewis winning the Heptathlon at the Sydney Olympics. Your heart beats like crazy, you run your legs off, and you feel like flying.
ÂÂÂÂSo if you find all the worthy reasons to get fit listed below a turn-off, I dont blame you. Enforced exercise is often used as punishment in prisons and schools, and being made to do anything against your will is a form of punishment.
ÂÂÂÂDont punish yourself, get active in ways that you enjoy and that are achievable for your lifestyle.


ONE A healthy heart and lungs are fundamental to diving, and the only way to keep yours healthy is to get exercise. Your heart is a muscle, so to keep it in shape you need to work it. And that involves getting off your arse.

TWO Diving is tiring. At the end of a days diving, youll probably feel like falling asleep, and all you did was flop into the water and float about for a while!

If youre like me, you avoid too much finning because it just uses your gas faster. However, your body tissues are working to deal with on- and off-gassing. Your muscles have been working to hold you in position in the water, and if youre diving in the UK, your body has been working like crazy to keep your core temperature up.
If youre fit, your body will be functioning more efficiently, and can cope better with the stresses and strains.

If youre so knackered in the evening that you pass out over your beer and chips, your body is trying to tell you something.

THREE The most common scuba complaint is an aching back. Some of this is down to poor lifting technique when you carry heavy gear, slinging your cylinder across one shoulder, or bending over rather than using your legs.

Mostly it is caused by the girdle of muscle around your middle, your abdominals not being strong enough to support you and your equipment under water comfortably.
Having an enormous weightbelt slung around your waist wont help, so losing that spare tyre of blubber will.

FOUR The more challenging your diving, the more important fitness becomes. Most people would never dream of attempting the Everest base camp without getting properly equipped and seriously fit first. How can nipping off to 60m-plus without proper preparation be a good idea

Your diving skill and experience can protect you only while you are physically able to cope. If you like adventurous diving but are unfit for the task, youre an accident waiting to happen.

FIVE The single most important thing you can do to improve your health is to give up smoking. Painful, but true.

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