Jacques Cousteau once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” No one who has ever felt the allure of deep water can deny the famed oceanographer’s philosophy — especially divers. Diving isn’t only a fulfilling recreational activity; it also comes with its fair share of health benefits.
PADI shares those studies show scuba diving increases exposure to bone-building vitamin D, reduces stress and lowers blood pressure, and can even increase flexibility, lead to better sleep, and boost the brain’s serotonin and dopamine levels.
The benefits from diving are immense, ranging from mental to physical, and in some cases — depending on the individual — even spiritual, improving an individual’s holistic well-being. The Professional Association of Diving Professionals says, “Diving can, for many, act as an underwater meditation. The focus on breathing, the sensation of weightlessness, and the absence of many of the modern world’s omnipresent distractions — ringing phones, blinking inboxes, beeping texts — allows individuals to reconnect to the planet.
“Aside from the psychological, there are scientifically proven physical health benefits to diving, like increased flexibility and strength, improved blood circulation, and an increase in oxygen.”
The Psychological and Physical Therapeutic Value of Diving
“Divers have long recognized the benefits of diving. And recent studies from the past 10 years prove it. For instance, Johns Hopkins did some double-blinded studies in both the psychological and physical benefits of diving, finding data to support that there is a therapeutic value to it. It’s almost prescribable,” says PADI CEO and President Drew Richardson. “I’ve also personally done some work with individuals with traumatic brain injury and PTSD, and the results from diving are incredible. I’ve witnessed, anecdotally at least, impressive step gains thanks to immersion.”
Richardson adds that scuba diving helps soothe the nervous system, thanks to more mindful breathing methods.
“Think about it. You’re particularly conscious of your breathing while scuba diving,” Richardson explains. “Unlike time spent above the surface in which we are often too distracted to focus on the breath, you are back to your primal functions, which can improve relaxation as well as your physical and mental function.”
In addition to therapeutic psychological and physical attributes, Richardson says there’s a Zen quality to scuba diving that ties into healing and stress relief.
“A big part of diving is self-healing from awareness and observation,” Richardson says. “Divers quickly discover the experience is all about slowing down and being present, which ties into well-being. If we can get more people being conscious of that, and diving together in groups, humanity can begin to heal collectively.”
Richardson adds that diving can improve moods and sleep patterns, further reducing stressors.
PADI’s Push for Healing and Health
“Whoever thought that diving would be a physical and psychological therapy? It turns out it is,” Richardson says, citing the Johns Hopkins work. “People feel a little glowy when they come out of a dive, and tired, and ready to take a nap and all the rest, and that’s just mellowing out and taking pause. That’s from an interaction with the environment, which brings us back in mind, …….