Fitness for Scuba: Exercises for All Ages

SARCOPENIA IS A NATURAL MUSCLE LOSS (atrophy) due to aging. Periods of inactivity due to injury, illness, or a busy life can accelerate this process. Individuals over the age of 65 are particularly vulnerable to muscle loss, making regular and recreational activities such as diving challenging. Fortunately, safely using your muscles regularly can reduce age-related atrophy. 

Use it or lose it applies to training your muscles. As you age, however, your body is less forgiving. Safer muscle training as you age includes lower impact, focus on targeted muscles, controlled movements, and prioritizing proper form over finishing repetitions.

This exercise program is appropriate for all ages. Several exercises include resistance bands, which are lightweight, easy to pack and store, and come in various colors. Typically, yellow is easy, red is medium, and blue is heavy, but other colors and coding systems are available and may vary by brand.

Banded Bridges

  1. Place a loop resistance band just above your knees.
  2. Lie on the floor with your knees bent so your feet rest flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Resist the band by pushing your knees outward.
  4. Tighten your abdominals and squeeze your buttocks, pressing your back to the floor. 
  5. Lift your buttocks off the floor in a controlled manner, creating a bridge.
  6. Continue upward movement by pushing up to your toes.
  7. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position while flexing your ankle to lift your toes off the floor.
  8. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps each.

Make sure you do not arch your back at the top of the movement.

Elevate your body or feet with gym mats to adjust the difficulty.

Place a weight or dumbbell on your pelvis and perform the same motion to increase the difficulty.

dive fitness stretch - lay on back with knees up
dive fitness stretch - raise hips


  1. Stand tall with your feet close together and your hand on a supportive surface for balance.
  2. While keeping your leg straight and without moving your waist, kick your leg straight out in front of you until you reach about a 45-degree angle.
  3. Hold your position for 3 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position, then with the same leg, immediately perform the same motion to the side.
  5. From starting position again, perform the same motion but kick backward.
  6. This sequence counts as one repetition. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions each. 

Perform in front of a mirror to avoid leaning your body to compensate.
Rest your foot on the floor between hip motions.
Add ankle weights or bands to increase the resistance.

dive fitness stretch - standing start position
dive fitness stretch - with straight leg, extend behind
dive fitness stretch - with straight leg, extend in front
dive fitness stretch - with straight leg, extend outward

Single-Leg Press with Resistance Band

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Place a band around the middle of one foot.
  3. Pull the band until you feel the appropriate resistance. Slowly raise your knee while keeping your heel near the floor.
  4. Extend your knee back to your original position while keeping your heel near the floor.
  5. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions on each side.

Use a slow, controlled motion.
Make it easier by lengthening the band.
Hold more of the band to increase resistance.

dive fitness stretch - start with sitting position and straight legs together
dive fitness stretch - stretch each leg by bringing knee to chest

Banded Quarter Wall Squats

  1. Stand with your arms at your sides, back pressed against a wall, and a band just above your knees.
  2. Slowly lower yourself down the wall, keeping your feet and knees aligned and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lower yourself as far as is comfortable, up to a 90-degree bend in your knees. Bend at your knees and hips to reach this position.
  4. Perform three sets of 10-second holds, and gradually increase your time to 45 seconds.

Maintain an appropriate upright posture and keep your upper back in contact with the wall.

Bend or extend your knees to raise or lower your hold position if you have any knee pain or discomfort.

Add a heavier resistance band to increase the difficulty.

dive fitness stretch - start with standing against wall
dive fitness stretch - go to sitting position against the wall

NOTE: To avoid an increased risk of decompression sickness, DAN® recommends that divers avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours after making a dive. During your annual physical exam or following any changes in your health status, consult your physician to ensure you have medical clearance to dive.

© Alert Diver — Q2 2022