Appeared in DIVER March 2001

Top myths about fitness

 

1 DIVING MAKES YOU FIT
Any activity that makes your heart beat faster and forces you to breathe harder will improve your fitness - but only if you do it for at least 20 minutes, and every day or every other day.
Most of us dont dive that often. We spend most of any dive weekend sitting down, and the majority of us dont work a lot during the dive. So diving alone is not much good at keeping you fit.
When you add the fried breakfasts, chip-butty lunches and beer-soaked evenings into the equation, a dive weekend probably does you more harm than good.

2 FITNESS CAN BE STORED UP
The fact that you were super-fit and captained the football/netball team at school wont help you one jot if youve spent the past 15 years sitting on your backside.
You can be naturally fit
Insisting that you are naturally fit because you dont put on weight easily is self-delusion. Nobody is going to be fooled when you collapse under the weight of your own gear halfway back to the car park at Stoney.

3 BEING FIT MAKES YOU A BETTER DIVER
You could be an Olympic-standard basketball player but if you have no buoyancy control and panic at the sight of a spider-crab, your fitness will help only in evading your instructor and bolting more efficiently.
However, being fit wont hinder your diving, whereas being unfit can make you suck through your air quicker than a Dyson on overdrive, and leave you too exhausted even to haul yourself back onto the boat.

4 FAT PEOPLE ARE UNFIT
Try telling that to a Sumo wrestler. If you exercise regularly you will inevitably become fit, regardless of your weight.
5 YOU CAN ONLY GET FIT IN A GYM
Any exercise that makes your heart beat faster and leaves you out of breath will improve your fitness. That could include walking the dog, digging the garden, chasing the kids around, clubbing or having sex. Choosing activities you enjoy, and which you dont have to go out of your way to do, means you stand a far better chance of getting and keeping fit.

6 IF ITS NOT HURTING, ITS NOT WORKING
A phrase adopted by sadistic games teachers and Jane Fonda fitness videos. Feel the burn No thanks, Jane, and you can keep those legwarmers too. Pain is your bodys way of telling you to stop, and ignoring it will not only make you feel bad but probably injure you into the bargain.
You wont become Steve Redgrave overnight, so take it gradually. As you get fitter, youll find you have to work harder to get your heart rate up, but (and this is the cool bit) exercising when fit makes you feel really good.






Sophie
ASSESS YOURSELF,
THEN ACT


by Sophie Rennie

You can assess your fitness through your local gym or an exercise physiologist, but there are also a few simple things you can do yourself:


BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) TEST: Take the square of your height in metres and divide it by your body weight in kg (eg 1.77 x 1.77 = 3.1329. 72kg/3.13 = 23). This gives your weight-to-height ratio. Between 22 and 26 is the norm - above 30 is classed as obese!


HEART RATE: Your resting pulse rate should be between 60 and 80 beats per minute. Above 80 is too high. Sit quietly and find the carotid pulse in your neck, count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. Then walk up and down stairs for 5 minutes and take your pulse rate again. It should be between 65 and 85 per cent of your heart rate maximum (220 beats a minute). If its above 85 per cent, its too high.


HEALTHY HEART CHECK: If you reply yes to more than three out of five of the following questions, it might be that you are in a higher-risk category for heart disease:


1) Is there any heart disease in your immediate family

2) Do you smoke

3) Do you have high cholesterol

4) Do you have high blood pressure

5) Is diving your only form of exercise


For those divers not exercising regularly, a simple program of three sessions of 30 minutes a week, such as brisk walking or cycling, will provide sufficient exercise. Aim to keep your pulse rate between 65 and 75 per cent at first, as this will help to burn any excess fat as well as increasing your cardio-vascular fitness.


  • Sophie Rennie (pictured) is an MPhil (Exercise Physiology) and BSAC First Class Diver. For further advice, contact her on 01392 215333 or s.g.rennie@excite.com