Image by John (giannis) Kotsifas via FlickrScuba diving is a wonderful sport with many benefits to your physical and mental health.
PHYSICAL HEALTH BENEFITS
If you're going to scuba dive, you need to pass a physical examination before you can be certified, and as you dive your fitness will improve and you will develop good muscle tone and strong lungs.
When I decided to do scuba diving training around 20 years ago, the requirements for starting the course were much tougher than they are today, and you had to be really fit to pass the physical. I prepared for the physical exam by cycling to the swimming pool every afternoon (about 20 km/12.5 miles), swimming 100 laps, and then cycling home. I got fit in no time.
I'm glad that I had to get into shape before the course, because I am quite small and found the gear quite heavy at first. This is fine on a boat dive, but many times dives from the shore entailed going down a cliff, doing the dive, and then climbing back up the cliff when I was already tired. If I hadn't been fit, I couldn't have done that, and I had some great dives around reefs close to shore.
MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Scuba diving means you need to learn to be a reliable buddy for other divers. You also have to learn to be responsible for yourself and to look after your own safety. You will learn to stay calm at all times, and that helps you in challenging situations on land, as well as in the sea.
Especially when you are learning and going on your first dives, you will also need courage. I remember my very first boat dive off Cronulla, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. I was one of the first in the water and grabbed the anchor chain, and looked down. The water was crystal clear, and I got a sudden fear of heights! Down at the bottom and looking up, it seemed a long way to the surface.
You need courage on night dives too, especially your first one. On my first night dive, there were the shadowy shapes of grey nurse sharks circling us, presumably attracted by the lights. It was no place for the faint-hearted.
Once you're more experienced, you will find scuba diving physically and mentally relaxing, and you will be so fascinated by what you are seeing that the time will just fly. It takes you completely out of yourself, and you become absorbed by the world around you. Your cares just drift away.
Scuba divers are a great bunch of people. They are fit, healthy, adventurous and brave, and you will make friends among them. You will find a sense of community among divers. Being a scuba diver also means you will always have something interesting to talk about.
Scuba divers see evidence of pollution and environmental degradation that landlubbers do not see, and tend to become more environmentally aware on land because of that.
Scuba diving can challenge you to expand your skills and try new things. There is always another scuba course to do, and always something new to learn, whether it be about scuba diving itself or about the underwater world.
Scuba diving broadens your horizons, and changes your world view, because you are exposed every dive to a part of this world that few people get to know. It's a great sport, with many benefits.
Thanks to Lin Edwards