Learning to scuba dive is a fun fitness activity that almost anyone can do. Your scuba instructor can help you work up to the basic fitness level needed before you arrive for your scuba adventure. Do be aware that you will need to be able to carry gear and climb a ladder.
No Weight Limit to Scuba Dive
Technically there is no weight or height limit to being a scuba diver as long as you can find a suit to fit. There are instructors who won’t take children under a certain age or swimming ability.
You will need to meet a basic fitness level. If you can’t swim 200 yards or walk a 14-minute mile without needing a rest, you may not be ready. However, both of these activities are things that you can build up to.
Scuba gear is quite heavy on land. Carrying your own gear may also require you to build up strength in your spine and upper back.
If you really want to be in the water while working on your fitness, consider learning to snorkel to improve your swimming skills.
You can also grow accustomed to fins, the tight face mask, and to using and caring for the breathing apparatus.
Finding a Suit That Fits
Getting into a wetsuit is never comfortable. You need a suit that fits snugly enough to keep pests out and to keep your body heat trapped close. You can also reduce the risk of getting too chilled by staying hydrated.
Tall divers and heavy divers who are just starting out may struggle to find one that fits appropriately. If you choose to rent a suit and it doesn’t cover everything, you may end up with very cold extremities.
If you choose to buy a suit that fits and your fitness activities cause you to lose weight, you can layer leggings and a tee shirt under your suit to stay warmer.
A final tip to stay warm inside the suit: Don’t pee in the suit.
Hydration and Nutrition Concerns
Make sure you are fully hydrated before you dive and load up on water when you get back on board. Eat a small and healthy meal 2 to 3 hours before diving; not only will it provide you with plenty of fuel for your swim, the work of digestion will warm up your body inside the suit.
Do your best never to dive right after traveling. Flying can impact the health of your inner ears; getting in the water will not help your balance or equilibrium. Avoid salty or greasy foods. Of course, you should never use drugs or alcohol before a dive.
Avoid The Bends
The Bends refer to decompression sickness. It’s caused by the release of nitrogen bubbles in the body; nitrogen builds up when your oxygen is low. Not only is this condition incredibly painful, but it can impact you when you’re underwater. If you can’t swim to the surface, the condition can be fatal.
While your risk of this condition is low as a snorkeler, the more time you spend at high underwater pressure, the greater your risk. Your overall fitness level will also impact your risk of suffering this condition.
If your fitness routine doesn’t include both cardiovascular work and muscle-building work to the point that you can breathe comfortably through moderately intensive exercise, your risk of decompression sickness may be higher.
For example, if carrying your gear to the boat exhausts you and you can’t catch your breath, you may not be ready to dive just yet.
Follow the Rules
Your dive instructor can help you honestly monitor your fitness level before you get in the water. Consider a physical exam and a conversation with your doctor about your risk.
Changing up your fitness routine for a few months before you try diving can improve your experience and contribute to your safety.
Don’t try to hide your current health risks. If you’re a reformed smoker, be aware that you may need to give your lungs time to fully heal up.
Damaged or limited lungs may not show up until you’re under the water; let your instructor know how long it’s been since you smoked.
If you can’t swim because you’re afraid of water, try a snorkeling kit to learn to put your face under the water and breathe without panicking.
Get in a pool and walk around in water that is no higher than your waist to get comfortable. You can scuba if you can’t swim, but the work of getting past your panic will take time.
Time in the water can be terrific for people of any weight. Build up your fitness level with basic strokes, water aerobics, and snorkeling practice. Take time to choose the right suit so you can stay warm and protected on your dive.