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October 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 26, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Exercise and Diving

pre-dive workouts can protect against decompression sickness

from the October, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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In the March and May 2004 issues of Undercurrent, I examined the estimated risk of decompression sickness (DCS) posed by exercise before, during and after scuba diving. My conclusion: Based on the research at hand, divers should avoid strenuous exercise four hours before and six hours after diving. I also reviewed research showing that a single episode of high-intensity aerobic exercise 24 hours before a chamber dive decreased the number of circulating gas bubbles in humans more than fourfold, and reduced the maximum bubble size by a half. Studies on rats showed that strenuous exercise 20 hours before a chamber dive suppressed bubble formation and reduced decompression illness-related deaths in rats, but had no meaningful effect at 48, 10, or five hours prior. This line of inquiry suggests that vigorous exercise many hours before diving may reduce the already tiny incidence of DCS....

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