Wellness while traveling is nothing new, but certain adventure activities, such as diving, are increasingly coming into the spotlight. “Divers benefit from a boost of vitamin D, become more aware of their breathing, improve their fitness, improve their sleep quality and connect with a like-minded community,” said Julie Andersen Global Senior Director of Brand for PADI Worldwide.
Andersen explains how diving in salt water can improve your health.
Salt water rejuvenates you
Thanks to the high magnesium content in salt water, staying in or near the ocean will help regulate your muscle and nerve functionality, moderate blood sugar levels, and improve your sleep. Magnesium is a crucial element in our body, which many people are deficient in.
Salt water improves your skin
“Vitamin Sea isn’t just a cute ocean pun; 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 abrasions, cuts or sores. Salt water can also help improve lymph flow, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Salt water increases your consumption of trace minerals
Our body needs trace elements to function and develop optimally. “It just so happens that salt water contains many of the essential trace minerals 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 are in or near the ocean.
Salt water improves your breathing
Swimming, diving or even just floating in salt water can improve your breathing ability. In fact, it can also relieve the symptoms of hay fever, sinusitis and asthma. This is because the salt solution in the ocean reduces inflammation and mimics the body’s own fluids.
Additionally, sea air has a high salt content, which means that when you breathe it in, it clears your throat and respiratory system, allowing for clearer breathing and better sleep quality. Sea air is also known to keep you awake and energetic during the day as it is much cooler.
Salt water literally keeps us grounded
Have you ever felt at peace with the world when you walk barefoot on the beach? There is a scientific reason for this known as grounding. “Positive electrons in the form of free radicals can build up in our bodies and direct contact with the sand and salt water, which have a negative charge, literally compensates for this,” says Andersen. This is why you’re likely to feel more energetic and relaxed at the same time when you’re at the beach – and why many of us are naturally drawn to the sea.
Salt water strengthens our immunity
Did you know that salt water has been proven to help heal people with weakened immune systems, anemia and high blood sugar levels? In fact, salt water is now used in medicine, especially for its ability to help our immune systems stay strong against viruses, bacteria and pathogens. In fact, salty ocean water 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 diving specifically good for us? Andersen explains how good health and diving are closely linked.
Get a boost from vitamin D
The correlation between vitamin D and our overall health has been known for years. A great way to get your daily vitamin D boost is to get outside in the sun. A daily dip in the ocean (with reef-safe sunscreen) ensures your body gets the right dose of this essential vitamin.
Be aware of your breathing
“The golden rule of diving is to never stop breathing,” says Andersen. So naturally you’re going to focus on your breathing in ways you might not on land. Mindful breathing can not only help you stay neutrally buoyant, but also calm your nervous system, strengthen your immune system, and get rid of any negative emotions.
Improve your fitness
Diving gives you a workout without you even realizing it. The physical movements you do while diving will feel relaxing, but at the same time they will get your heart beating faster, your muscles stronger and your endurance increasing. Water is a great medium to practice in, providing pressure without impact from every angle.
Lower your blood pressure
Although your heart rate will undoubtedly increase with excitement when you encounter a dolphin, shark or manta ray underwater, the overall diving experience is relaxing. That often means stress and anxiety levels decrease, while your heart rate and blood pressure are lowered.
Enjoy a boost of dopamine and serotonin
Diving and being in the moment gives you happiness hormones known as dopamine and serotonin. “Exploring, being present and seeing a whole new world beneath the surface is not only stimulating, but it also directly helps our bodies produce more of these happy hormones, which keep you feeling good for the rest of the day,” says Andersen.
Improve your sleep quality
There’s 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 hits of dopamine and serotonin wear off later in the day. Chances are you’ll even have more vivid dreams of the magical underwater world you just experienced firsthand.