"We recommend DAN Membership to our clients travelling to dive destinations throughout the South Pacific and beyond. As DAN Members, our clients travel with the reassurance of knowing if they encounter a diving related incident while travelling, they will receive advice and assistance from an Organisation whose existence is for Divers and has an understanding of the associated risks, medical symptoms and the importance of timely evacuation and medical treatment." - Mike Budden, Dive Fish Snow Travel

Health & Fitness in Scuba Diving

This is meant as a general overview and should not be used in place of a medical consultation.

Personal Fitness in Scuba Diving

Scuba diving offers opportunities for travel, family fun and friendly interaction with the environment. As divers of all ages and athletic abilities pursue recreational scuba diving, one must consider the fitness level required for scuba. Although the relative weightless underwater environment makes diving appear almost effortless, scuba diving does require a measure of strength and stamina.

Learning to Scuba Dive

If you’re considering learning to dive, keep in mind that not all your diving will be the same - water and weather conditions vary from dive to dive and even the beginning to end of some dives. You may be required to manoeuvre through strong currents to reach your dive site - or perform a long surface swim at the end of a dive. Divers need to be able to perform unexpected strenuous physical tasks. Also, they should not have any health conditions or be taking any medications that may cause problems while diving.

Restrictions on Diving

Some medical conditions - such as colds, flu, injury or pregnancy - will temporarily restrict diving. Why? With colds or flu, swelling or blockage in the Eustachian tubes or sinuses may prevent adequate equalisation of these air spaces with the water pressure. Injuries to joints and muscles may not only reduce diving ability but also increase susceptibility to decompression illness. Therefore, it is best to postpone diving until the injuries are fully healed. Because little is known about the effects of diving on an unborn child, it is recommended that pregnant women wait to dive until after a pregnancy. Other medical conditions that restrict movement of a diver’s arms and legs may limit in water mobility. Additionally, some people may experience pain or discomfort with the exertion of diving. These symptoms may mimic the signs of decompression illness after a dive. Such health issues require individual evaluation by a physician prior to learning to dive.

Pre-dive Physical Examinations

You should definitely consult a doctor before diving if you have any of the above conditions, but also other conditions like a history of heart or lung disease, nausea/vomiting, unexplained black-outs, shortness of breath, have the appearance of not being physically fit, are taking any medication, or have repeated trouble clearing air spaces. No upper age limit for participation in scuba diving exists, provided a diver is fit and healthy and has no disqualifying medical conditions.

Diving on Medications

Let your dive instructor know if you are taking any medications, whether they are prescribed or not. Most medications will have no effect on diving, but some may cause drowsiness or fatigue, which may increase susceptibility to nitrogen narcosis. Others may affect heart rate. Read the warning labels carefully and consult a doctor if you are unsure.

Asthma and Diabetes

There is concern about the advisability of allowing individuals with asthma or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus to dive. Some individuals with a history of asthma are permitted to dive by their doctors - after a careful evaluation. Diabetes and many other medical conditions must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by an appropriate medical specialist. DAN membership helps support research into these matters.

Enjoy Scuba!

Scuba diving is an activity that anyone with good health and fitness can enjoy for a lifetime. To get the most out of your lifetime of diving, practice disease and injury prevention and participate in a health maintenance program.