If you’re an experienced freediver, then you’ve probably already felt the incredible benefits of the sport. Each dive not only teaches you about what exists outside, in the ocean, but it brings your awareness inside to your body and mind as well. The list of freediving benefits is endless, but here a few to keep you motivated to dive longer and deeper.
Freediving relieves stress
Freediving slows the heart rate and immerses you in an environment where your senses are mostly muted. Many freedivers are also dedicated yoga practitioners, as there is major overlapping when it comes to the mental strength and physical flexibility that’s needed to become a skilled yogi and freediver.
You might find that freediving removes you both physically and mentally to any issues that are tethered back to solid land – like a nasty boss, bratty kids, or a pile of debt calling your name. Freediving gives you a chance to view your landlocked issues from a new perspective.
Freediving brings body consciousness
The only person responsible for and in charge of your wellbeing while freediving is you. Freediving forces you to become hyperaware of each movement that your body is making – including its oxygen levels and CO2 buildup. You will feel everything from buoyancy, cramping, contractions, and how the overall state is.
Compare this to the average person, who often lives life without truly getting to know their body and what is capable.
Freediving increases self-confidence
Most freedivers are shocked when they first start – they never knew they could hold their breath for minutes at a time, or dive so deep on a single breath of air. Freediving brings self-confidence as you learn to trust your skills and fine-tune your control.
Freediving gives you more opportunities to see marine life
Though scuba diving lets you stay underwater longer, the bubbles sometimes startle marine life and the cost of renting or transporting gear can restrict the destinations that you’re able to see. With freediving, you are often seen as a fellow marine mammal and are less threatening to underwater sea life. It’s a much more intimate experience than any other type of diving or snorkeling. Since all you need is your body, a mask, and fins, the places you can explore through freediving are nearly limitless.
Freediving leads to mental clarity
All experienced freedivers know that the path to deeper and longer dives is through total relaxation. While other ocean sports don’t focus on relaxation as much – which is why panic is common in scuba diving, surfing, and swimming. Through freediving, you learn to rein in your fear, leading to mental clarity and insight you couldn’t gain otherwise.
Freediving makes your body more oxygen-efficient
The more you freedive, the more oxygen-efficient your lungs and body become. According to the BBC, “underwater pressure constricts the spleen, squeezing out extra haemoglobin, the protein in red corpuscles that carry oxygen around the body.”
Freediving at depth shows similar effects on the body that training at high altitude does, where the body becomes fine-tuned to performing on oxygen limits. Diving also increases your lung capacity and strength. While the average person rarely inhales a full breath, freedivers do it on a regular basis.
Freediving teaches discipline
Those contractions you feel? While they wouldn’t be classified as painful, they can be uncomfortable – especially during long dives. Tolerating this discomfort instead of turning back as soon as you feel the urge to breathe makes you more disciplined. There are many points in our life where we’re met with discomfort – long lines, awkward encounters, physical training – but having the ability to push past it is priceless.
Freediving strengthens your water safety skills
Certified freedivers learn basic rescue skills, as well as the proper steps and breathing techniques for freediving. Freedivers know that relaxing conserves oxygen, and that the body is capable of holding its breath much longer than most people realize. Freediving is an asset to nearly every sport that involves being in water. You’re able to keep calm and know what to expect when it comes to breath holding (being held under by a wave) or what to do if someone else blacks out.
Freediving increases flexibility
Whenever you take a deep breath, you are stretching your entire upper body ranging from your abdominal muscles to your rib cage to your back and shoulders. Swimming and freediving under pressure also benefits joints. The weightlessness of being submersed in water can increase mobility and even help those with arthritis relieve pain.
Freediving is a great complement to scuba diving
Though scuba diving and freediving are completely different activities, each one helps the other. The more time you spend in the sea, the more comfortable you’ll with being there. And since so many scuba diving accidents are related to panic in an unfamiliar situation, your familiarity with the ocean and relaxation techniques gained in freediving will make you a more competent scuba diver no matter the situation.