Water: Element of Life and Fitness

By Kelli Cuppett

Human life begins in liquid, with amniotic fluid protecting and surrounding the prenatal body. The human body is made up of four major components: water, fat, minerals and proteins; water accounts for 60-70 percent of the body’s mass. So it seems natural that we are drawn to water for consumption, exercise, recreation and relaxation.

The physical principles of immersion in water also provide benefits to the body. When the body is submerged, hydrostatic pressure can decrease swelling, aid in blood circulation and support and massage the body. The weightlessness you feel in the water also means that the water is reducing the compression of your joints. And, assuming the water temperature is not too cold, your heart rate decreases after submersion, resulting in a relaxed state.

Water also provides a great environment for rigorous exercise. It is 12 times more resistant than air, and exercising in water provides bidirectional resistance that is difficult to obtain on land without specialized equipment.

Scuba divers must work the water efficiently — swimming, streamlining and managing air consumption by moving smoothly. As with any sport, maintaining a healthy body and good physical state are key to maximizing your experience. Water aerobics provides a diverse exercise program, and its bidirectional resistance targets opposing muscle groups throughout the entire body.

A typical one-hour water aerobics class consists of five minutes of warm-up exercises using short lever movements (i.e., jogging, marching, side-stepping, paddle-wheeling forearms, plunging arms, etc.), followed by five minutes of stretching, five minutes of cardiovascular warm-ups, 25-30 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of muscular conditioning and five minutes of final stretching. The water’s resistance, coupled with the force behind each movement, increases strength and endurance while burning 400-500 kilocalories per hour.

Try the following five shallow-water exercises to condition the core. The water depth should be between the chest and the belly button while your feet are flat on the pool floor. These exercises require the use of an approximately 8-inch playground ball. They can be performed using repetitions (16-32 repetitions each) or time (one minute each) or as interval training (vigorous exercise for 30-60 seconds) between each ball exercise. If you choose to use these exercises in interval training, the duration of each ball exercise portion should be about three times as long as each cardio portion.

Before completing each exercise, follow these steps to align your body:
  •  Stand on the pool floor with your feet hip distance apart or wider, being careful not to hyperextend your knees. Draw your navel to the spine, and hold the contraction throughout the exercises to keep your core engaged.
  •  Place your hands on top of the ball, and press the ball down toward the pool floor. Keep the ball close to your hips and the tops of your thighs.
  •  Stabilize your shoulders by rolling them back and down and retracting the shoulder blades (squeeze the shoulder blades together).
Tricep Press
  1.  Keeping the elbows tight beside the body, inhale as you bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, resisting the upward force of the ball. Your palms should be on top of the ball, toward the pool floor.
  2.  Exhale as you extend your elbows, pressing the ball back toward the hips and tops of the thighs.
Oblique Twist (Short Lever or Long Lever)
  1.  Keeping the elbows tight beside the body, bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, resisting the upward force of the ball. Your palms should be on top of the ball, toward the pool floor.
  2.  Square your hips forward, and plant your feet on the pool floor. Inhale twist from the belly-button area to the left (around 10 o’clock), exhale and hold. Inhale twist from the belly-button area to the right (around 2 o’clock), exhale and hold.
Tip: To make this a long-lever twist, extend the arms, keeping the ball submerged, and twist.
Latissimus Dorsi 
  1.  Straighten your arms, and press the ball to the tops of your thighs.
  2.  Inhale as you lift your arms straight out in front of you, only high enough that you can keep the ball under water.
  3.  Exhale as you press down on the ball to return it to the tops of your thighs.
Adductors Squeeze
  1.  Place the ball between your legs just above the knees.
  2.  Stand tall, and squeeze the ball with the inner thigh muscles (adductors). This is a quick action.

Rectus Abdominal Crunch
  1.  With extended arms, allow the ball to come about 6-12 inches in front of your body.
  2.  Exhale as you draw the base of the rib cage to the top of the hip bones for a crunch.  Inhale as you extend to stand, releasing the crunch. Resist the pressure of the ball throughout the movement.

It is important to participate in exercise programs that are diverse and designed to focus on muscle movement, muscular strength, endurance and functional movements. Before beginning any exercise program or changing your physical activity patterns, you should always consult with your physician.

DAN Note
To avoid an increased risk of decompression sickness, DAN recommends that divers avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours after making a dive. During your annual physical exam or following any changes in your health status, consult your physician to ensure you have medical clearance to dive.


immersion and bubble formation Accidents Acid reflux Acute ailments After anaesthesia Air Quality Air exchange centre Air hose failure Airway control Alert Diver Magazine Alternative gas mix Altitude changes Altitude sickness Aluminium Oxide Ama divers Amino acids Anaerobic Metabolism Annual renewal Apnea Apnoea Archaeology Arterial gas embolism Arthroscopic surgery Aspirin Aurel hygiene BCD BHP BLS Back adjustment Back pain Back treatment Backextensors Badages Bag valve mask Bahamas Balancing Bandaids Barbell back squat Barometric pressure Barotrauma Basic Life Support Batteries Bench press Benign prostate hyperplasia Beth Neale Black Blood flow Blue Wilderness Blurred vision Boat safety Bone fractures Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Bradycardia Brain Breast Cancer Breath Hold Diving Breath hold Breath-hold Breathing Gas Breathing Breathold diving Broken bones Bruising Bubbleformation Buddy Exercise Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CMAS CO2 COVID-19 COVID CPR Cabin pressure Caissons diseas Camera settings Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cannabis and diving Cannabis Cape Town Dive Festival Cape Town CapeTown Carbon dioxide Cardio health Cardiological Cardiomyopathy Chamber Safety Chamber science Charging batteries Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Charlie Warland Chemotherapy Chest compressions Chiropractic Citizen Conservation Cleaning products Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care ColdWater Cold Commercial diving Commercial schools Compressed gas Consercation Conservation Contaminants Contaminated air Coral Conservation Coral Reefs Corals Core strength Corona virus Courtactions Crohns disease Crowns Crystal build up Crystallizing hoses Cutaneous decompression DAN Courses DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN members DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS theories DCS DEMP DM training DNA DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Danel Wenzel Dauin island Deco dives Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression Stress Decompression illsnes Decompression treatment Decompression Deep diving Deep water exploration Delayed Offgassing Dental Diaphragms Diseases Dive Chamber Dive Computer Dive Destinations Dive H Dive Industry Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive Medical Form Dive Pros Dive Research Dive South Africa Dive Training Dive Travel Dive accidents Dive buddies Dive computers Dive excursions Dive fitness Dive gear Dive heallth Dive health Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive operators Dive planning Dive safety Dive safe Dive staff DiveLIVE Diveleader training Diveleaders Diver Health Diver Profile Diver infliencers Diver on surface Divers Alert Diving Divas Diving Kids Diving Trauma Diving career Diving emergencies Diving emergency management Diving fit Diving guidelines Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Dizziness Dolphins Domestic Donation Dowels Dr Rob Schneider Drysuit diving Drysuit valves Drysuits Dyperbaric medicines EAPs EAP Ear pressure Ear wax Ears injuries Eco friendly Education Electronic Emergency action planning Emergency decompression Emergency plans Emergency underwater Oxygen Recompression Emergency Enviromental Protection Environmental factors Environmental impact Environmental managment Equalisation Equipment care Evacuations Evacuation Evaluations Even Breath Exercise Exhaustion Extended divetime Extinguisher Extreme treatments Eye injuries FAQ Failures Fatigue Faulty equipment Female divers Fillings Fire Coral Fire Safety Firefighting First Aid Equipment First Aid Kit First Aid Training First Aid kits Fish Identification Fish Fitness Training Fitness to dive Fitness Flying Fractures Francois Burman Fredive Free Student cover Free diving Free flow Freedive INstructor Freedive Training Freediver Freediving performance Freediving Gas Density Gas laws Gas mixes GasPerformance Gases Gastoeusophagus Gastric bypass Gastroenterologist Gear Servicing Gordon Hiles Great White Sharks Gutt irritations HCV HELP HIRA HMS Britanica Haemorhoid treatment Hazard Description Hazardous Marine life Hazardous marinelife Health practitioner Heart Attack Heart Health Heart Rate monitor Heart rates Heart rate Heart Heat stress Helium Hepatitis C Hepatitus B High temperatures Hip strength Hip surgery Hippocampus History Hot Humans Hydrate Hydration Hydrogen Hydroids Hydrostatic pressure Hyperbaric Chamber Hyperbaric research Hyperbarics Hypothermia Hypoxia IdentiFin Immersion Immine systems In Water Recompression Indemnity form Indian Ocean Indonesia Inert gas Infections Injections Instinct Instruction Instructors Insurance Integrated Physiology International travel International Interval training Irritation Joint pain KZN South Coast Kidneys Kids scubadiver KwaZulu Natal Labour laws Laryngospasm Lauren Arthur Learning to dive Legal advice Legislation Leukemis Liability Risks Liability releases Liability Life expectancy Lifestyle Lightroom editing Live aboard diving Liver Toxicity Liver diseas Low blood pressure Low pressure deterioration Low volume masks Lung Irritation Lung function Lung injuries Lung squeeze Lung surgery Lung MOD Maintenance Malaria Mammalian Dive Response Mammalian effect Marine Biology Marine Scientists Marine conservation Marine parks Marinelife Master scuba diver Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical emergencies Medical questionaire Medical statement Medication Mehgan Heaney-Grier Mermaid Danii Mesophotic Middle ear pressure Mike Bartick Military front press Mixed Gas Mono Fins Mooring lines More pressure Motion sickness Mozambique Muscle pain Mycobacterium marinum Nausea Nautilus Neck pain Neurological assessments Nitrogen build up Nitrox No-decompression Non-rebreather Mask Normal Air Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean Research Ocean pollution Open water divers Orbital implants Oronasal mask Osteonecrosis Out and about Outreach Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deficit Oxygen deicit Oxygen dificiency Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supply Oxygen therapy Oxygen P J Prinsloo PFI PJP Tech Part 3 Partner Training Philippine Islands Philippines Phillipines Photography Physioball Physiotherapy Pills Pistons Planning Plastic Pneumonia Pneumothorax Poison Pollution Pool Diving Post-dive Pre-dive Preparation Prepared diver Press Release Professional rights Provider course Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Pulmonary Edema Pulse Punture wounds Pure Apnea Purge RAID South Africa RCAP REEF Radio communications Range of motion Rashes Rebreather diving Rechargeable batteries. Recompression chamber Recompression treatment Recompression Recycle Reef Conservation Reef surveyors Regulator failure Regulators Regulator Remote areas Renewable Report incidents Rescue Procedure Rescue breathing Rescue breaths Rescue training Rescue Resume diving Risk Assessments Risk assesments Risk assessment Risk elements Risk management SABS 019 SafariLive Safety Stop Safety SaherSafe Barrier Salty Wanderer Sanitising Sara Andreotti Saturation Diving Save our seas Science Scombroid Poisoning Scuba Air Quality Scuba Injury Scuba Instructor Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Sea Horses Sealife Shark Protection Shark Research Shark conservation Shark diving Sharks Shoulder strength Sideplank Signs and Symptoms Sit-ups Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Snorkels Sodwana Bay Solomon Islands South Africa Spinal pain Splits Squeezes Stability exercise Standars Stay Fit Stents Step ups Stroke Submerged Sudafed Sulawesi Supplemental oxygen Surface supplied Air Surfaced Surgeries Surgery Suspension training TRavel safety Tabata protocol Tattoes Technical Diving The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Tips and trick Tooth squeeze Transplants Travel smarter Travel tips Travel Tropical Coastal Management Tunnelling Tweezers Ultrsound Umkomaas Unconsciousness Underground work Underwater hockey Underwater photographer Underwater photography Underwater pho University of Stellenbosch Urinary retention. Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Vape Vaping Vasopressors Vasvagal Syncope Venting Virus infections Volatile fuels Washout treatments Wastewater Water Resistance Water Weakness Weigang Xu West Papua Wet diving bell Wetsuit fitting Wetsuits White balance Wide angles Winter Woman in diving Women In Diving SA Women in diving Work of Breathing Workout Wound dressings Wreck divers Wreck dive Wreckdiving Wrecks Yoga Youth diver Zandile Ndholvu Zoology abrasion acoustic neuroma excision air-cushioned alert diver altitude anemia antibiotics antiseptics bandages barodontalgia bent-over barbell rows bioassays body art breathing air calories burn carbon dioxide toxicity cardiovascular cerebrospinal fluid checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants decongestion dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver in distress diver rescue diver training dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits drowning dry mucous membranes dry suits dry e-cigarettes ear spaces elearning electrolyte imbalance electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment equalising equalizing exposure injuries eyes fEMAL DIVERS fire rescue fitnes flexible tubing frediving freedivers gas bubble gas poisoning gastric acid gene expression health heartburn histidine hospital humidity immersion and bubble formation immersion pulmonary edema (IPE jaundice join DAN knee longevity lower stress malaise marine pathogens medical issues medical procedures medical risk assesment medications mental challenge micro-organisims minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal near drowning nematocysts neurological newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre operations orthopeadic outgas pain perforation phillippines physical challenges pinched nerves plasters polyester-TPU polyether-TPU post dive posture preserve prevention psychoactive pulmunary barotrauma rebreather mask rebreathers retinal detachment risk areas safety stops saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections smoking snorkeling. spearfishing sterilising stings strength sub-aquatic swimmers ears tattoo care tecnical diver thermal protection toxicity training trimix unified standards vision impaired warmers water quality