Be aware of your physical fitness when scuba diving. While there's nothing stopping you from diving when you're overweight, do scuba diving properly by diving within your set BMI range.
Is There a Weight Limit for Scuba Diving?
A BMI of 25 and over categorizes a person as overweight. In this context, there’s no certain weight limit put on a diver by rule, however, you have to be medically checked for fitness (stamina, fat level) before you can be allowed to scuba dive.
How Does Being Overweight Affect a Person’s Diving Skills and Experience?
Scuba diving requires you to lift heavy equipment from time to time as well as perform various strenuous activities, for which your stamina and health need to be perfect. If you’re fat and not used to strenuous physical activities such as lifting weights, exercising and swimming, scuba will prove to be more of an exhausting activity than a fun one.
Being obese is also associated with a lot of other health problems, for example diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension (high blood pressure), and lack of stamina. All these are likely to cause you inconveniences when underwater, possibly ruining your whole experience for the very first time.
Risks of Diving When Overweight
If you’re overweight, naturally you won’t be able to react as fast as a normal healthy person would in case of emergencies, where you either have to swim really fast towards the top or towards another diver.
These instances would put you at a disadvantage because your reflexes won’t be as fast or as efficient, making you not only a danger to yourself, but to your diving buddies as well.
Find Out if You’re Fit to Scuba Dive
Your diving instructor can direct you to a doctor specialized in finding out how compatible your body is with scuba diving and if not, how can you make it so it is. They will screen you through a couple of exercising drills and runs, basic tests to determine your level of fitness and stamina.
They will also be asking or testing you for cardiovascular diseases normally associated with weight gain, in order to prevent any problems while scuba diving.
Health Issues When Diving Obese
Muscle strain and joint stress – if you dive when you’re unfit, there’s a danger of you straining your muscles or putting too much stress on your joints, causing you discomfort and pain while diving, leading to further medical complications if left untreated.
Overweight people have reported a higher likelihood of developing Decompression Sickness (DCS) after a dive, since they have a higher body fat composition. Since diving computers are not adjusted to work with an overweight person’s mass, it’s also likely that the wrong calculations of ascensions can cause you to break dive table limits, thereby causing DCS.
Am I Too Fat to Dive?
In most cases, you’re not too fat to dive as it’s not a matter of weight, it’s a matter of fitness.
Diving will even help you burn some calories while enjoying the underwater world. However, you should visit a medical professional so that they can recommend a fitness plan for you ahead of trying scuba, this will make sure you shed some weight and retain the fitness needed to dive without any issues.
Take swimming lessons – since scuba diving relies on your ability to swim properly, if you haven’t gone for a swim in a while it’s best that you start practicing a few weeks prior to the diving date so that your muscle memory reactivates, making it easier for you to shed weight as well as build up stamina.
Lastly, ask your instructor to prepare a relatively light dive equipment and less-intensive diving site for you; this will make sure you enjoy the experience as well as limit the amount of strenuous activity and exhaustion after a dive.