Dive Fitness Overview

Even if you’re healthy from a medical standpoint, you’ll still need to consider your physical fitness, which is of utmost importance for safe diving. The level of exertion required for various diving conditions ranges from light to heavy. You should be familiar with both expected and possible conditions at your dive site and consider how your exercise capacity aligns with demand in various situations.


Are You Physically Fit For Diving?

diver gained weight while inactive

Period of Inactivity

During the time you weren’t diving, you may have been less physically active in general, you may have gained weight, or you may just be older and have yet to learn your new limits. 

Fitness Evaluation

DAN can advise you on how to self-evaluate your fitness and when you should seek evaluation by a medical professional. If your fitness needs improvement, make a plan and stick to it. Start as soon as possible to allow enough time to achieve your goals. 


Additional Fitness Resources


Age-Related Considerations

There is no age limit for diving, but aging is often associated with chronic diseases and declining physical fitness. Health risks associated with diving vary with age, as do health and fitness maintenance requirements. It takes more time for sedentary older people to improve their physical fitness, but the effort is worth it to improve quality of life. 

Venous Bubbles

Older divers are more prone to developing venous gas bubbles after diving. If they get decompression sickness, healing may take longer and be incomplete. That being said, we see proportionally fewer older divers getting DCS because most older divers dive more conservatively.

The Eyes

The eyes tend to age consistently across the population. Cataracts, glaucoma and surgical corrections of vision are quite common and may affect your ability to dive (or may require modifications). Assess your ability to read gauges without glasses in dim light.

Doctor and patient consultation

Prostate Health

Older male divers may have developed prostate issues that require adjustments in diving or lifestyle. You should learn about possible interactions of some common drugs with an enlarged prostate (be aware of some seasickness drugs), and how to regulate frequent urges to urinate.

Medications

If you are taking prescription medications, ask DAN or your physician how these might interact with diving. Even over-the-counter drugs should be considered since some of them may cause complications.


Refresher Tips By Age Group

Getting older doesn’t have to mean giving up on diving, but divers over 50 should be aware of common medical issues that may affect dive safety. 

18-35Years Old
  • Health
  • Consult UHMS RSTC form

  • Fitness
  • Personal activity history

  • Skills
  • Supervised skill drills

  • Procedures
  • N/A

36-45Years Old
  • Health
  • Annual medical

  • Fitness
  • Self test

  • Skills
  • Supervised skill drills

  • Procedures
  • Increase safety deco margin

46-65Years Old
  • Health
  • Annual medical

  • Fitness
  • Supervised test

  • Skills
  • Refresher course

  • Procedures
  • Dive conservatively

66+Years Old
  • Health
  • Entry-level medical evaluation

  • Fitness
  • Medically supervised test

  • Skills
  • Refresher course

  • Procedures
  • Avoid decompression dive, dive conservatively


Additional Age-Related Resources


24/7 Emergency Hotline

In event of a dive accident or injury, call local EMS first, then call DAN.

24/7 Emergency Hotline:

+1 (919) 684-9111

(Collect calls accepted)

DAN must arrange transportation for covered emergency medical evacuation fees to be paid.

Medical Information Line

Get answers to your nonemergency health and diving questions.

Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

+1 (919) 684-2948, Option 4

Online: Ask A Medic

(Allow 24-48 hours for a response.)