This Is How Snorkeling Can Be Beneficial For Your Health

Most everyone knows what a snorkel is. They're sold in the summer fun section of major big box stores and they show up in just about every commercial for vacation resorts. But few people know the origin of the word "snorkel." Or how many benefits snorkeling has for a person's health.

Merriam-Webster lists the first known use of the word "schnorchel" as a German term in 1945 for the casing around air and exhaust pipes in submarines. The word was adopted into English sometime around 1949 and changed to "snorkel," then applied to the tube-like mask attachment we see in stores today.

The attachment — or the snorkels integrated fully into face masks — are most often seen as toys, especially for children who may not be comfortable swimming underwater. But there is an entire industry and social culture built around a more extensive form of snorkeling. And when practiced regularly, this form of snorkeling can yield some pretty impressive health benefits.

Whole-body benefits

Of all the benefits associated with snorkeling, there are a few that show up on nearly every snorkeling site. Citrus Reef lays them out well and covers everything from the physical to the mental. A 2016 study published in Frontiers in Public Health showed that there are several social and mental benefits to interacting with nature. And as Citrus Reef points out, snorkeling is a social as well as physical activity that brings you closer to nature.

The site also mentions the effect that snorkels have on breathing, namely that the limited breathing requires snorkelers to take deeper, more even breaths. This might not seem particularly important, but as Harvard Health Publishing explains, deep breathing — also known as belly breathing — can slow the heart and stabilize blood pressure while calming stress or anxiety.

And there is, of course, the muscle use involved in swimming and snorkeling. Conquer the Water explains that fins allow snorkelers to swim faster, but they increase resistance against the water. This means that every kick uses more energy and does more to tone the snorkeler's legs. And just as with general swimming, snorkeling engages a person's core and back for an all-around workout, blended with the serenity and fun of being in the water.