Cold-Water Freediving: Health Benefits and Tips
Freediving has seen a noticeable gain in popularity on Vancouver Island in recent years. Although the surface waters can be slightly warmer in the summer, the temperature below the thermocline is a frigid 5-8 degrees Celsius and in some areas the temperature remains relatively constant throughout the seasons.
Although the summer months may bring slightly warmer water temperatures, the resulting algae blooms in the ocean can create a “pea soup” effect in the first 30-60 ft of the water column. However, the summer months bring a unique opportunity to explore the many freshwater glacier rivers that Vancouver Island has to offer. In the ocean, the colder winter months have remarkable visibility and spectacular wildlife, for those who are brave enough to dive in.
There are many reasons why cold-water diving will benefit not only your health but improve your freediving skills as well. Additionally, we have included some tips to help you stay comfortable and enjoy your cold-water freediving experience.
Four Health Benefits to Cold Water Diving:
Boost your Immune system
Cold water immersions and the effects on immune systems have been studied widely, and it is known that stress-inducing stimuli, such as repeated cold-water immersions can help to boost immune systems as the body is forced to react to changing conditions. Over time, your body can become more efficient at activating these defences.
Cold water freediving places stress on the body physically and mentally, but there have been numerous studies that support the theory that cold water divers become calmer and more relaxed through repetitive exposure.
As cold water hits your body and external limbs, it constricts circulation on the surface of your body. This causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at faster rates to maintain ideal body temperature. Repeated exposure can help adapt us to the cold.
Get those happy juices flowing
The cold water sends many electrical impulses to your brain. They jolt your system to increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels. Endorphins, which are sometimes called happiness hormones, are also released. This effect leads to feelings of well-being and optimism.
Five Tips to Enjoy Cold Water Freediving:
Picking the right wetsuit is essential, with most divers wearing 5mm up to 7.5mm suit or creating a layered combination with a hooded vest. It is important to keep in mind that extra neoprene will have to be balanced with more weight and the neoprene will compress at depth, requiring you to work harder to return to the surface. Visit us at Pacific Pro Dive and we will help get you into the right suit for you!
Grab a Buddy
Although this is a standard rule in all diving, cold water allows little room for error and therefore safety needs to be at the top of the list when planning any dive. We strongly recommend proper training before getting into the water to explore.
Post dives warm-up
Packing a thermos of warm water to pour into your wetsuit can be a lifesaver when you want to get back in the water for a second dive. Packing warm liquids such as tea, or soup will also go a longways to completing your experience!
Improve your freediving skills
The mammalian reflex will respond to the cold water may help you achieve some of your best dives yet. The incredible visibility coupled with the spectacular wildlife will have you out practicing more than you thought possible!
Expand your hobby
Spearfishing has been gaining popularity and can be a rewarding blend of sustainability with self-sufficiency to those who want an intimate connection between what they consume, and the environment from which it comes.
It’s important to not harvest from established dive sites, and ensure you practice an ethical, and sustainable approach to marine harvesting. There are many resources available, and courses to assist anyone who may be starting out.
Not convinced yet? Check out Pacific Pro Dive online to get a taste of all the breathtaking views our cold waters have to offer. Call or visit us at Pacific Pro Dive to get even more recommendations and take your next steps to get in the water!
Image by: Joe Platko, follow him on Instagram.