Friday, July 12, 2024
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Keeping Fit for Divers on a Liveaboard

Being enclosed by water on all sides is no excuse for not keeping fit while diving off a boat. Prepare for your dives at sunrise; recover at sunset and breeze your way through diving feeling relaxed and ache-free.

I recently spent a week on a liveaboard during an intense fitness training schedule, so I had to think of some ways to keep fit onboard. I packed my yoga mat, swimsuit and skipping rope with the hope to finding time to do all three. Little did I know how relentless the diving and eating timetable is!

First of all I wasn’t able to swim because each dive site had a risk of sharks patrolling the surface waters. Not wanting to come face to face with an oceanic white tip, I willingly complied.

Skipping seemed a good idea at the packing stage but finding the space and time to do this outside of the hottest hours of the day was tricky, and the vigorous exercise might have posed a DCS risk.

Which left me with yoga. On all the days we dived except two (when wakeup was 4:45am!) I spent 20 – 30 minutes on the top deck waking up my body with twists, side bends, back stretches and a short breathing exercise. I’d come down to the diving deck raring to go while the others were still wiping sleep from their eyes!

The abundance of lead weights onboard gave me a few muscle toning sessions in the cool of the air conditioned lounge, particularly for arms, shoulders and upper back.

An hour after the last dive, and before dinner, I spent some more time stretching out my shoulders, upper and lower back from the pressure of the heavy scuba gear. I also focused on core strength exercises for improved stability in the water.

Although I wasn’t able to fit in any cardio training, I think that three hours of frog kick up, down and around the reefs helped to at least maintain what I’d built-up in the weeks prior to my holiday. I went on to achieve a new personal best in a competition three days later.

So if you’re on a diving holiday this summer and want to keep body and mind in tip-top shape while you’re there, here are a few suggestions:

  • yoga is best practiced before eating so you may need to get up earlier, or delay the post-dive beer a while to fit in a session before food
  • stick to seated exercises if the boat is moving, or rocking
  • don’t balance on one foot, leg, hand or your head and neck in case the boat suddenly moves
  • try to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed
  • avoid vigorous exercise after diving as this is a DCS risk

Rebecca suggests 7 stretches for divers on liveaboards at OMdiver.

Yoga on a Liveaboard

Rebecca Coales
Rebecca Coales
Omdiver is Rebecca Coales; a yoga teacher, PADI Divemaster, AIDA 3 star freediver and Assistant Instructor with NoTanx Apnea. Rebecca lives in Bristol and runs a freediving club (Bristol Freedivers) and teaches yoga. With any time leftover she works as an environmental advisor. When not diving or doing Yoga you can find her at or on twitter @om_diver.