Healthy, but overweight!

I have a friend who wants to learn to scuba dive. Although he does not have any major illnesses, he is overweight - he is 5 feet 6 inches / 168 centimeters tall and weighs about 250 pounds / 112.5 kilograms. He is on a diet recommended by his doctor, does not take any medication and he walks a mile or more every evening. Before I encourage him to dive, what are the chances he can be approved for diving?
Fitness for scuba diving is a complex issue. Certainly, excessive weight can be a reason to restrict diving. 

Consider two questions:

(1) Will an overweight individual suffer any ill health effects by diving? and
(2) Will this individual be able to perform all of the necessary skills to dive successfully?

There is no strong body of evidence to suggest that overweight individuals have a greater risk of DCI or that they suffer more dive-related injuries that divers who are within 10 percent of their ideal body weight. Obesity by itself does not restrict diving.

The best indicator of diving fitness is the individual's general health and level of physical fitness. Keep in mind that divers who are overweight can have a greater risk for cardiac incidents. Consider the exercise regimen - or lack of it - in an overweight individual. Diving requires a diver to lift and carry scuba equipment, swim both underwater and on the surface.
When evaluating a candidate for scuba, a dive physician will consider these factors as well as the "reserve" factor: the increased cardiovascular and respiratory response required when a sudden need arises. In an emergency situation, unfit divers may end up in a near-drowning or fatal dive incident.

The second question considers an individual's ability to perform self-rescue in the open water and assist a buddy. Both skills are vital to the scuba buddy system. Will your partner's physical conditioning and stamina allow him or her to provide assistance to you at the surface?
These are good questions to ask any dive buddy. Remember, it is difficult to get a heavy person out of the water and onto the back of a boat for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): you can lose vital minutes. Morbidly obese individuals with no exercise tolerance can dive in a tranquil sea: it's when things go wrong or when circumstances change that they have to call upon their reserves.

Fitness for diving depends on more than just one criterion like weight. Physical fitness and ability are major factors to consider. Other experiences in life don't always prepare a new diver for the potential physical exertion he or she can encounter underwater. For some, lacking physical fitness and endurance and being overweight may be a barrier to dive training. Also, divers who have gained weight over the years might now be considered unfit. These divers do have the advantage of experience, however. Perhaps this can help them avoid situations that can stymie new divers.

Each individual is different, and that's the way diving fitness decisions should be made. Individuals who want to learn to dive should join introductory scuba programs through local dive stores: they could see how they handle themselves with equipment in the water. Equally important, they can get the opinion of a professional instructor who can speak realistically about the physical abilities needed for diving.

3 Comments


Johan - October 3rd, 2016 at 8:25am

I am an obese person but I swim at least 1km per day. Most divers who are at their body weight, if they suffer equipment failure is a worst risk than me because most of them can not swim properly. One factor that I did not consider is that it will be more difficult to get me on the boat. However when we did our Rescue course my wife who weight less than 50% of my weight with assistance of our regular Skipper at Sodwana easily got me on the boat for simulating CPR.

Raven - October 3rd, 2016 at 2:22pm

Would more mass not necessarily equate to more gas absorption? And in that case a risk leading to minor / micro embolism or dci? IMHO fitness I key to better sac rate and longer dives, whether overweight or underweight. And I know a bunch of people that are very fit even though the are overweight. My question is related gas absorption and whether decompression / off-gassing have to be adjusted to bulk.

Categories

 2019
 2018
 2016
After anaesthesia Air Quality Air exchange centre Air hose failure Altitude changes Altitude sickness Ama divers Anaerobic Metabolism Annual renewal Apnea Apnoea Arterial gas embolism Arthroscopic surgery Aurel hygiene BCD Badages Bag valve mask Bandaids Barbell back squat Bench press Blood flow Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Bradycardia Brain Breast Cancer Breath Hold Diving Breath hold Breath-hold Breathing Gas Breathing Bruising Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CMAS CO2 Cabin pressure Camera settings Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cannabis and diving Cannabis Cape Town Dive Festival Carbon dioxide Cardio health Cardiomyopathy Chamber Safety Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Chemotherapy Cleaning products Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care Cold Compressed gas Conservation Contaminants Contaminated air Corals Courtactions Crohns disease Crystal build up Crystallizing hoses Cutaneous decompression DAN Courses DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS DM training DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Deco dives Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression illsnes Decompression treatment Decompression Diaphragms Diseases Dive Chamber Dive Industry Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive Pros Dive Research Dive Training Dive accidents Dive buddies Dive computers Dive gear Dive health Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive safety Dive staff Diveleader training Diveleaders Diver Profile Divers Alert Diving Kids Diving career Diving emergencies Diving guidelines Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Domestic Donation Dr Rob Schneider Drysuit diving Drysuit valves Drysuits EAPs EAP Ear pressure Ear wax Ears injuries Education Emergency action planning Emergency decompression Emergency plans Emergency underwater Oxygen Recompression Emergency Enviromental Protection Environmental factors Environmental impact Environmental managment Equipment care Evacuation Exercise Extended divetime Extinguisher Extreme treatments Eye injuries FAQ Failures Fatigue Faulty equipment Fire Coral Fire Safety Firefighting First Aid Equipment First Aid Training First Aid kits Fish Fitness Flying Francois Burman Free diving Free flow Freedive Training Freediver Freediving performance Gas Density Gas laws Gas mixes GasPerformance Gases Gastric bypass Gear Servicing Gordon Hiles HELP HIRA Haemorhoid treatment Hazard Description Hazardous Marine life Health practitioner Heart Health Heart Helium High temperatures Hot Humans Hydrate Hydrogen Hydroids Hydrostatic pressure Hyperbaric Chamber Hyperbaric research Hypothermia Immine systems In Water Recompression Indemnity form Indian Ocean Inert gas Infections Instinct Instructors Insurance Integrated Physiology International travel International Irritation Kidneys Kids scubadiver Labour laws Legal advice Legislation Leukemis Liability Risks Liability releases Liability Life expectancy Lifestyle Low blood pressure Low pressure deterioration Low volume masks Lung function Lung injuries Lung MOD Maintenance Mammalian Dive Response Mammalian effect Master scuba diver Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical questionaire Medical statement Middle ear pressure Mike Bartick Military front press Mixed Gas Mono Fins Mooring lines More pressure Muscle pain Mycobacterium marinum Nautilus Nitrogen build up Nitrox No-decompression Non-rebreather Mask Normal Air Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean pollution Orbital implants Oronasal mask Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deficit Oxygen deicit Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supply Oxygen therapy Oxygen P J Prinsloo PFI PJP Tech Part 3 Photography Pistons Planning Plastic Pneumothorax Pollution Pool Diving Preparation Prepared diver Press Release Professional rights Provider course Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Purge RAID South Africa RCAP Radio communications Rashes Recompression chamber Recompression Recycle Regulator failure Regulators Regulator Remote areas Renewable Report incidents Rescue training Resume diving Risk Assessments Risk assesments Risk elements Risk management SABS 019 Safety Stop Safety Saturation Diving Save our seas Science Scuba Air Quality Scuba Injury Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Sealife Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Snorkels Sodwana Bay Splits Squeezes Standars Supplemental oxygen Surgeries Surgery Tattoes Technical Diving The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Tips and trick Transplants Travel tips Travel Tweezers Unconsciousness Underwater photographer Underwater pho Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Vape Vaping Vasvagal Syncope Venting Volatile fuels Washout treatments Wastewater Water Weakness Wetsuit fitting White balance Winter Woman in diving Work of Breathing Wound dressings Wreck dive Wreckdiving Youth diver abrasion air-cushioned alert diver altitude anemia antibiotics antiseptics bandages bent-over barbell rows body art breathing air calories burn cardiovascular checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver rescue diver training dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits dry mucous membranes dry suits dry e-cigarettes ear spaces elearning electrolyte imbalance electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment equalizing exposure injuries eyes fEMAL DIVERS fire rescue flexible tubing frediving gas bubble health hospital humidity immersion pulmonary edema (IPE join DAN knee longevity lower stress marine pathogens medical issues medical procedures medical risk assesment mental challenge minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal nematocysts newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre operations orthopeadic outgas pain perforation phillippines physical challenges pinched nerves plasters polyester-TPU polyether-TPU post dive preserve prevention rebreather mask rebreathers retinal detachment risk areas safety stops saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections smoking snorkeling. spearfishing stings strength sub-aquatic swimmers ears tattoo care tecnical diver thermal protection training trimix unified standards vision impaired warmers water quality