How do I stay healthy and fit for diving before and on the road?
As proven by the shape of divers worldwide you don’t have to be a marathon runner to dive BUT I have to say I am VERY concerned about the general fitness level of many divers. Being overweight and out of shape contributes to diving accidents and fatalities worldwide every year. Diving is often done in very remote locations without access to medical facilities. Showing up for a dive vacation looking like a heart attack waiting to happen may just get you that. And it is unfair to other divers who may have to rescue you or cut short their vacation on a live aboard to take you to the hospital because you can’t stay away from the refrigerator.
Even an extra ten or fifteen pounds makes a big difference. You are often in a hot climate and sweating in your wetsuit which dehydrates you. You will need more weight to descend if you are overweight and you have more poundage to drag around under the water.
Routine. To have better fitness for life, not just for diving, get into a routine of exercise doing something! Never let more than two days go by without some form of exercise. There is nothing special to diving fitness, it is just basic all around life fitness. Keep your routine even though you are traveling.
Hydration. This is probably the greatest health risk to divers. When you dive in a hot tropical climate you dehydrate. When you party like a rock star on your vacation, you dehydrate. When you breathe compressed air you dehydrate. Drink PLENTY of water.
Try not to change your eating habits, except drink more water. If you don’t eat the chili omelet at home for breakfast, don’t eat it on vacation. The more you can stay to your normal diet, the happier your body will be. At home, I drink a protein shake for breakfast. It is an important part of my weight allowance when I pack. I bring my shakes with me. Recently, we were on a dive trip with a man who was sick every morning on the first dive of the day. Turns out he was drinking acidic orange juice on an empty stomach and then diving. As soon as he stopped this, he was fine.
Drink bottled water. Water is one of those things that can really make a difference in your body. If you have any health issues while traveling first be sure you are drinking bottled water. I always have issues with RO (reverse osmosis) water on live aboard dive boats and I know this so I drink bottled water or bring plenty of Immodium!
Hygiene. Different parts of the world have different bugs and a strict hygiene program will help keep your health on the road. Travel with Purell or some form of anti-bacterial and use it liberally on your hands. It is a life saver on the road! On a recent climbing trip to Nepal and Tibet, most everyone on our climbing team became ill and three of the climbers had to abort their summit attempt because of illness from the lack of hygiene in the countries. Sharkman and I were extremely diligent to our vitamins and our Purell. We used so much sanitizer our cuticles became raw BUT we were the only ones who didn’t suffer from illness along the way.
Medical Kit. Travel with a basic medical kit including a full antibiotic course, something for upset stomach and an anti-diarrheal. Divers usually carry pseudofed for stuffy sinuses and sunscreen as well.
Supplements. We believe that nutritional supplementation is key to healthy living and we always travel with them. We recommend www.usana.com . Email us if you would like more information on prices further discounted from the website.