Do you find that you are using up just a little too much air on your dives? If so, you probably aren’t too happy about this. After all, a higher consumption means that you get less time to dive and that certainly isn’t fun. Well, the good news for you is that you can find all the tips to improving air consumption right here.
You will be able to identify just why you are using so much of air as well as tips to improve your underwater air consumption as well.
So, without further ado, let’s get started…
How To Improve Your Underwater Air Consumption
The Unalterable Facts
Before going any further, you need to realize that some people simply use up more oxygen than others. This is due to their biological makeup rather than their diving technique. Therefore, if you fall into this category, you will find that you are limited in just how much you can lower your oxygen consumption.
People with the following physical traits often require more air than others:
- Higher muscle or body mass
- Greater lung capacity
- Higher metabolisms
Whether or not this applies to you, there are still a number of different tactics that you can try to significantly improve your air consumption rate below the surface:
1. Get More Diving Experience
It isn’t difficult to observe that experienced divers use a lot less air than divers that are just starting out. So, you need to ask yourself why this is. There are actually a couple of different factors at play here, starting with confidence.
Understand, skilled divers have spent a lot more time underwater than newer divers. Thus, they have gotten used to this environment and the act of diving itself. Due to this, they are a lot more confident – and calmer – when they are underwater.
Beginners, on the other hand, are more likely to feel anxious on their first few dives. When you get stressed out or begin to feel nervous, you begin to take short, shallow breaths. In doing so, unfortunately, you also end up using a greater amount of air.
This is why diving more can help you overcome your fear. As you get more used to the activity, you will be less scared of it. In turn, you will be better equipped to regulate your breathing.
2. Dive In Areas That You Are Comfortable With
Following up on the point made above, going into unfamiliar waters can be rather stressful. This is especially true for divers that are still trying to figure the whole diving process out. So, until you feel completely secure about your capabilities, it is best to stick to areas that you are familiar with.
Since it will be a spot that you are comfortable with, you are less likely to feel anxious. As such, your tank will last you longer. On a similar note, you should avoid diving to greater depths too quickly. If you want to go more slowly with reaching new depths, do this. You will then have less reason to panic.
3. Be Aware of Your Breathing
When you are on land, breathing is automatic. Since there is no need for you to keep track of it, you are probably unaware of what the difference between typical and atypical is like. Therefore, when you are under water, you have no way of really knowing that your breathing patterns have shifted or become more inefficient.
The first step to correcting this is to have a greater awareness of your breathing. To start with, you will need to keep track of how you breathe when you are on land and seated down. Use a stopwatch and figure out how many breaths you take per minute.
The next time you want to go for a dive, suit up and head to a shallow area – around 20 or 30 feet deep. Kneel down on the sand and don’t move at all. Keep track of what your breathing is like now. If you are taking in much more air than before, it is time to start lowering it to match how you breathe on the surface.
4. Train Yourself to Breathe Deeply
Once you have managed to normalize your breathing, it is time to take it one step further. You now need to teach yourself to start breathing more deeply. Regrettably, not too many people – including divers – understand what deep breathing is about.
For instance, place a hand on your stomach and inhale deeply. If it is only your chest that extends and not your stomach, it isn’t actually a deep breath. See, a real deep breath involves the lower part of your chest – the diaphragm. Therefore, when you are really inhaling deeply, it is your stomach that should move outwards.
Deep breaths are more efficient than shallow breaths. For one thing, they allow the full exchange of incoming oxygen with outgoing carbon dioxide. As such, the air that is entering into your body has a sufficient amount of oxygen for you.
There is another perk of deep breaths: they help to keep you calm. Thus, the better that you get at deep breathing, the easier you will find it to moderate your own emotions when you are underwater. This, too, will result in less air consumption.
5. Swim Slowly Underwater
The connection between movement and air consumption is fairly obvious. The more movement or effort that you make, the more air that you consume as a result. After all, the harder that your muscles have to work, the greater their demand for oxygen.
The thing is, when you are scuba diving, there is no need to move around quickly. To start with, keep your arms by your side and resist the urge to use them as though you are swimming. Another thing to keep track of is your finning as using your legs too much can require even more air.
To start with, you should opt for larger fins whenever possible. These offer up a more efficient transfer of energy, allowing you to move around without quite as much power. At the same time, don’t move fast when it isn’t necessary. This isn’t a race so don’t be afraid to take your time when underwater.
6. Attempt Neutral Buoyancy
Attaining perfect neutral buoyancy isn’t always possible. Still, it is something that you should strive for at most times. Understand, if you haven’t achieved neutral buoyancy, then you will have to work harder to stay level. This involves the movement of your arms and legs.
As it has already been established, the more effort that you have to make, the greater your air consumption. So, with this in mind, it is all about maintaining your buoyancy. For this reason, you should avoid under filling your BCD before your dive. By making sure that it is at the right capacity, you will be able to maintain buoyancy without any issue.
7. Monitor Your Activities Before a Dive
Most people have a tendency to go scuba diving when they are on vacation. Thus, it is not uncommon to find divers partying the night before. The problem with this, though, is that it can have a negative impact on your air consumption the next day.
See, your health is directly linked to your air consumption. So, if you are sleepy, hung-over, or dehydrated, your body will take in more air to compensate for this. This will automatically cut down on how long the air will remain in your tank.
To this effect, do yourself a favor and take it easy prior to diving. Eat healthily, drink lots of water, and limit your alcohol intake. It is also a good idea to go to bed early so that you get a good night’s rest and will not feel sluggish the next morning.
8. Try to Lead an Active Lifestyle
At the end of the day, scuba diving is a rigorous activity. This is true even when you are trying to conserve as much energy as possible. This is why it is important that you build up your physical capabilities on land to help you with your air consumption.
If the only exercise that you are getting is under water, then this needs to change. The more that you exercise, the better that your body adapts to physical activity. Consequently, when you have to exert energy while diving, your body will be used to it. In turn, your muscles will not require quite as much air.
At the very least, try to engage in cardio exercise a few times a week. Then, your body will adapt to the strain placed on your muscles. Not to mention, regular physical exercise will also make it easier for you to regulate your breathing, even when you are below the surface of the water.
There are a vast number of things that you can do to improve your air consumption while scuba diving. So, if you put all of these tips into practice, you will discover that you are able to stay under water for longer periods of time.