Travel wellness is nothing new, but some adventure activities – like scuba diving – are taking their turn in the spotlight. “Scuba divers benefit from a boost in vitamin D, become more aware of their breathing, improve their fitness levels, improve sleep quality and connect with a like-minded community,” says Julie Andersen, Senior Global Director of Trademark for PADI. World.
Andersen explains how saltwater diving can improve your health.
Salt water rejuvenates you
Thanks to the high levels of magnesium in saltwater, being in or near the ocean will help regulate muscle and nerve function, moderate blood sugar levels, and improve sleep. Magnesium is a critical element in our body, and many people are deficient in it.
Salt water improves your skin
“Vitamin Sea is not just a cute ocean game; it highlights how salt water is an essential nutrient for our body’s largest organ – our skin,” says Andersen. Salt water is rich in minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron and potassium, all of which help reduce inflammation, protect the skin and heal any scrapes, cuts or wounds. Salt water can also help increase lymph flow, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Salt water increases your consumption of trace minerals
Our bodies need trace minerals to function and develop optimally. “Salt water happens to have many of the essential trace nutrients we need, including magnesium, manganese, cobalt, sodium, calcium, potassium and boron,” says Andersen. These trace minerals are absorbed by your body through your skin—your largest organ—when you’re in or near the ocean.
Salt water improves your breathing
Swimming, diving, or even just swimming in salt water can improve your breathing skills. In fact, it can also relieve symptoms from hay fever, sinusitis and asthma as well. This is because the salty salts in the ocean reduce inflammation and mimic your body fluids.
Plus, sea air has a high salt content, which means that as you breathe it in, it clears your throat and respiratory system, allowing for cleaner breathing and better quality sleep. Sea air is also known to keep you awake and energetic during the day because it is much cooler.
Salt water literally grounds us
Have you ever felt at peace with the world while walking barefoot on the beach? There is a scientific reason for what is known as argumentation. “Positive electrons in the form of free radicals can accumulate in our body, and direct contact with sand and salt water, which have negative charges, literally balances this out,” says Andersen. That’s why you’re likely to feel more energized and relaxed at the same time when you’re at the beach—and why many of us feel naturally drawn to the sea.
Salt water increases our immunity
Did you know that salt water has been proven to help heal those with weakened immune systems, anemia and high blood sugar levels? In fact, salt water is now being used medicinally – specifically for its ability to help our immune systems stay strong against viruses, bacteria and pathogens. In fact, salt water from the ocean and our blood plasma are 98% identical.
How diving can help your mental and physical health
It’s no secret that physical activity is good for our health, but why is scuba diving especially good for us? Andersen explains how good health and scuba diving are closely related.
Get a vitamin D boost
The link between vitamin D and our overall health has been known for years. A great way to get a daily boost of vitamin D is by being outside in the sunlight. A daily dip in the ocean (while wearing reef-safe sunscreen) will ensure your body gets the right dose of this essential vitamin.
Be aware of your breath
“The golden rule in scuba diving is to never stop breathing,” says Andersen. So, naturally, you’re going to focus on your breath in ways that you might not when you’re on the ground. Mindful breathing will not only help you stay neutral, but also calm your nervous system, strengthen your immune system and get rid of any negative emotions.
Improve your fitness
Diving will give you a workout without even realizing it. The physical movements you make while diving will feel relaxed, but they will also get your heart pumping, your muscles toned and your endurance increased. Water is a great tool for exercising, providing pressure from any angle without impact.
Lower blood pressure
While your heart rate will undoubtedly increase with excitement when you encounter a dolphin, shark or manta ray underwater, the overall diving experience is relaxing. This means that stress and anxiety levels often decrease, along with a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure.
Enjoy a boost of dopamine and serotonin
Soaking in and being in the moment will give you happy hormones known as dopamine and serotonin. “Exploring, being present and seeing a whole new world beneath the surface is not only stimulating, but directly helps produce more of these happy hormones in our bodies and will leave you feeling good about the part next day,” says Andersen.
Improve your sleep quality
There is no better way to follow up a great day of diving than with an evening of relaxation. Many divers find it easier to sleep after a day of diving, especially as the dopamine and serotonin hits wear off later in the day. Chances are, you may even have more vivid dreams about the magical underwater world you’ve just experienced firsthand.