Being healthy feels good. You look good, and seem to function better. To be in peak safety position for a dive it is fundamental that your fitness is top notch – it helps with your mental ability, your endurance and calmness in tough situations. Stay fit to enjoy your dives, to keep on top form – and for your buddy. DAN take reveal the importance of health and fitness when it comes to scuba diving:
Few people enjoy perfect health for their entire lives. Adopting a healthy lifestyle early in life can help postpone ailments associated with ageing.
When health issues present, it’s important to discuss them with your healthcare provider, pursue appropriate interventions and adopt modifications. With ongoing awareness of your personal health status and timely adjustments to maintain your health, diving can be a lifelong recreational activity.
Prior to diving, you should take an honest assessment of whether you are medically fit to dive. Be vigilant for signs of acute illness (like congestion) and familiarise yourself with the risks and essential precautions associated with any chronic diseases.
Acute illness that lasts more than a few days or leaves you feeling exhausted should prompt a delay to diving:
- Do not dive when ill
- Wait until you regain your normal strength and stamina
- If you are not ready to exercise at your pre-illness level, you should postpone your dive
- The best course of action is to consult with your physician
Chronic diseases may affect your fitness to dive risks even if you perform well in other activities:
- Some health conditions, especially in advanced stages, may make the risks to you and your dive buddies unacceptably high
- In less advanced or more stable medical conditions, divers may continue safe and enjoyable diving with proper guidance from their physician, medical controls and wise choices
During your annual physical exam or following any changes in your health status, consult your physician to ensure you have a medical clearance to dive.
Being a physically fit diver means that you have sufficient aerobic capacity, cardiovascular health and physical strength to meet the demands of the diving environment. Can you fight a current? Perform a long surface swim? Help a buddy in an emergency? All divers need to be physically able to perform these essential tasks.
Here are some tips to help you enhance your fitness for diving:
- While diving itself can be physically demanding, it is not enough to maintain fitness overall
- Divers must stay fit with additional activities outside of diving, such as swimming laps, strength training and flexibility and balance exercises
- Regular physical activity, including aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activity, is essential to maintain physical fitness
- If you are over 40 and do not exercise regularly, consult your physician before you start exercising
- Divers should dedicate time to fin swimming. Fitness for swimming against a current includes fin-swimming skills. Divers without these skills may not be able to create sufficient propulsion to overcome a strong current even if they have high aerobic capacity for muscular work
- At least six weeks prior to a dive trip, gradually increase the level of your physical activities
- Join your local dive club for more specific training opportunities
- To avoid an increased risk of decompression sickness, DAN recommends avoiding strenuous exercise for 24 hours after diving
Courtesy of the Divers Alert Network (DAN)