Celebrities do it: Scuba-diving fitness

Aug 25, 2010 at 4:43 p.m. ET

Sandra Bullock does it. So does Katie Holmes. Even Nikki Taylor’s dabbled in it. So what exactly is the allure of scuba diving? The ability to burn tons of calories, tighten and tone your body, all while frolicking in the surf are a few big reasons. Here's why you should consider scuba diving, along with the must-have scuba diving gear to get you started.

Scuba diving woman

The history of scuba diving

Scuba diving, which actually stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, is all about below-the-surface activity. You must breathe through a compressed air pump to receive oxygen (hence the phrase's meaning). The first successful commercial dive has been credited to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a French naval officer and explorer who studied the sea and all forms of aquatic life, in the 1940s.

How scuba-diving fitness works your body

Diving recreationally is one of the best workouts you can do to whip yourself into shape. Not only does it torch calories (a 145-pound woman will burn about 230 calories every 30 minutes), it also tightens and tones muscles (you'll use your legs, arms, abs, back and glutes to dive, swim and float through the water). What's more, because you'll have to focus on your breathing to avoid developing decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis and oxygen toxicity, it's also a good way to strengthen your cardiovascular system.

Must-have scuba-diving gear

For all of the health benefits you get from scuba diving, there are some other considerations, specifically cost. Diving isn't cheap -- you'll need a lot of equipment and training to do it safely. But it's a great investment that will improve your fitness and give you a new, wondrous way to work out.

Scuba-diving gear you'll need: 

  • Diving suit: The deeper you dive, the colder the water will be. To avoid hypothermia, you'll want to invest in a good bodysuit.
  • Diving mask: A mask is an absolute must to help you see underwater. You can also invest in full-face masks, which have the added bonus of keeping your head warm.
  • Fins: To help propel yourself through the water, it's also important to invest in a good pair of flippers. The latest styles are super-lightweight, so you'll be able to move around with less drag and greater ease.
  • Dive watch: This will help measure your dive time and depth. (A stylish and well-recommended option is the Victorinox Swiss Army Dive Master, which will help you gauge depth up to 500 meters.)
  • Scuba unit: This kit allows you to breathe underwater and helps you descend or ascend at will. It usually contains a dive regulator, oxygen tank and buoyancy control device.

AttentionBefore you dive, you should take basic scuba-diving training, including the Submersible Certification Card. PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is the biggest and most-recognized dive certification agency in the world.

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