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Surprising health benefits of scuba diving in quarries (even during cold days)
Airworks - 9/29/2020 3:01 AM
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Category: Educational
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Surprising health benefits of scuba diving in quarries (even during cold days)Several of my dive buddies, and other divers I’ve met along the way, have expressed a huge preference for warm-water diving over getting wet in colder waters. And to be honest, I find that diving in tropical, warm climes is very relaxing and fits well within my comfort zone.

Personally, however, I frequently look for reasons to go beyond my comfort level in order to stretch myself physically and mentally.

Since I currently live inland (Fredericksburg, VA) and a considerable distance from the coast, diving in freshwater quarries has become a staple for me. Diving in them is not as exciting as ocean diving, but it has its pluses. One of the more common “negatives”, or complaints about quarry diving is that they are “too cold”. That happens to be true. It is rare to find one that has surface water (from the top to 10’ under) temperatures above 60 degrees F, even during the summer months.

For those of you who are reluctant about making quarry diving a regular part of your scuba experience because of the colder water, consider several recent studies that have shown some surprising health benefits of swimming in (or in our case, diving in) cold water.

Here is a link to one: iprshealth.com/news/8-benefits-of-cold-water-swimming

Let’s take a closer look. Scuba diving in cold water…

1. Enhances your immune system
The effects of cold water on the human body, and the immune system in particular, has been widely studied. Cold water helps to boost the production of white blood cells because the body is forced to react to changing conditions. Over time, the body becomes better at activating its defenses. And who wouldn’t want to strengthen the immune system against viruses like SARS-CoV-2 (COVID 19)?

2. Gives you a natural “high”
Cold water swimming (and diving) activates endorphins, the chemical produced by the brain that makes us feel good during and after activities. Scuba diving is exercise, and any form of exercise has shown to help treat depression. Since exposure to cold water brings us close to the “pain threshold”, endorphins are released to help us cope with the situation.

3. Reduces inflammation
Many athletes will tell you that cold water immersion can do wonders for the body after intense physical activity. It has shown to help reduce inflammation. Even certain types of arthritis can be relieved through regular exposure to cold water.

4. Improves circulation
Cold water swimming/diving flushes your veins, arteries, and capillaries. It forces blood to the surface and helps to warm extremities. Repeated and regular exposure assists in adapting to the cold.

5. Increases libido
Cold water was thought to repress sexual inclinations. However, the opposite is true. A dip in cold water boosts estrogen and testosterone production, adding an edge to fertility and libido. Increased libido enhances confidence, higher self-esteem, and heightened mood.

6. Burns calories
The heart pumps faster in cold water, so the body must work harder to keep everything warm. Overall, far more calories are burned during cold water swimming/diving than doing those activities in warmer conditions.

7. Alleviates stress
Numerous studies have identified a real link between cold water immersion and stress reduction. Who couldn’t use a little less stress?? 

If divers are given compelling things to see and enjoy in a quarry (and a project I’m pursuing promises to do just that), while being fairly comfortable at a safe and common-sense level before entering and after leaving the water, I believe they would be willing to put up with the temporary and minor discomfort of colder water temperatures.

For example, if you knew there was an enclosed, climate-controlled area (during cold or windy days) you can get into while donning and doffing gear, particularly after exiting the water, you will be more inclined to temporarily tolerate getting chilly while submerged underwater.
 
Many divers have told me they don’t mind diving in cold or chilly water as long as they are properly suited, and can expect to warm up quickly once they get out. But what if the ambient conditions are 42 degrees (or less), windy, and/or cloudy? Having to handle wetsuits and gear in those situations can be absolutely miserable! Divers who had planned for two or more dives at a quarry on any given day have often decided to abruptly stop and go home after the first one. They just couldn’t stop shivering (initial indicator of hypothermia). I’ve experienced that, and it’s not fun.
 
The unfortunate thing is that most quarry dive sites lack warm staging areas. Usually the most divers can expect are open canopy structures or wall-less pavilions.
 
A dive facility that strives to mitigate ambient undesirables just might motivate divers to get wet more often even when nature is not fully cooperative.
 
One other point needs to be made.
 
I’m sure you’ve heard of “brain-eating amoebas”. The Naegleria-Fowleri lives in warm lakes and ponds. There was a recent case were a Floridian male died within a week of inhaling (through the nose) warm water that contained the amoeba.
 
Choosing to scuba dive in a quarry where the water temperatures are cooler than normal will stave off the growth of harmful amoeba’s and parasites.
 
That’s another great reason to take the cold water challenge and go quarry diving!