Your Health and Fitness
When health issues are present, it’s important to discuss them with your healthcare provider, pursue appropriate interventions and, if necessary, modify your diving.
Prior to diving, you should take an honest assessment of whether you are medically fit to dive. Be vigilant for signs of acute illness (such as congestion) and familiarise yourself with the risks and essential precautions associated with chronic diseases.
Acute illnesses that last 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, postpone your dive.
- The best course of action is to consult your physician.
Chronic diseases may affect your fitness to dive 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.
- With less advanced or more stable medical conditions, divers may continue safe and enjoyable diving with medication, guidance from their physician and wise choices.
During your annual physical exam or following any changes in your health status, consult your physician to ensure you have 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.
While diving itself can be physically demanding, maintaining overall fitness requires additional physical activity beyond just diving. Here are some tips to help you enhance your fitness for diving:
- Regular physical activity, including aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activity, is essential for maintaining physical fitness; try swimming laps, strength training or flexibility and balance exercises.
- If you are over 40 and do not exercise regularly, consult your physician before you start exercising.
- Dedicate time to fin swimming. Swimming with fins will strengthen muscles that other aerobic activities won’t. Even if you have high aerobic capacity for muscular work, you may find yourself unable to overcome a strong current if you never practice swimming with fins.
- 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.
Proper Gear Maintenance
Dive equipment is life-support equipment. Each time you dive, you are venturing into a fascinating but also unforgiving environment; make sure you are diving with properly functioning equipment.
One of the best ways to keep your gear functioning properly is to keep it well-maintained. Here are some easy ways to do that:
- Rinse your equipment after each dive, and clean it after each trip before storage.
- After rinsing, allow gear to dry completely in a cool, shady and well-ventilated area before you put it away.
- Store your gear in an area that is protected from extreme temperatures as well as dust and dirt.
- Whether you use your equipment frequently or only for annual dive trips, get your gear professionally serviced to ensure all parts and pieces are working properly.
- Regularly monitor your equipment for signs of wear and check the hoses for leaks or cracks; pay particular attention to your regulator.
- As part of your annual equipment overhaul, have your pressure gauge checked for accuracy.
- Most divers are diligent about their regulators, but BCDs are often overlooked. The bladder and low-pressure inflator hose are both subject to deterioration and should be inspected at the same time the regulator is serviced.
- Replacing parts as needed prolongs the life of your equipment and helps prevent incidents such as uncontrolled ascents and regulator failure underwater.
- Follow manufacturer’s guidelines on proper maintenance of your equipment. If you have questions, contact your local dive centre or the manufacturer.
- Take an equipment maintenance course to learn even more about gear maintenance.
For more information about health and diving, visit DAN.org/Health and check back in for next week’s post about buoyancy control, dive planning and more.