The question is often asked of scuba diving as to what level of fitness is needed to be able to enjoy and carry out the sport.The answer is that all age groups, shapes, weights and sizes can enjoy many fantastic dives by following a few simple rules and tips.
Initially any budding diver has to answer a simple medical questionnaire that will highlight any potential health problems before they even get in the water. Most can be esily checked and cleared for diving by your own physician. In general if there are no issues on the medical questions then you are fit and healthy enough to start diving.
Diving does require some lifting of weight due to the equipment and then carrying it on your back until you get into the water. For those strong enough or those that find the kit relatively ok to carry then the donning of the scuba equipment and entering with it on is straight forward. For those that find the weight a problem there are simple solutions to follow.
Firstly you can always dive from a dive boat where you can don the equipment in a sitting position and then easily role backwards or jump in pretty much from your seated area. Or normally a member of the dive team can also help to take some of the weight as you go from putting the scuba on to your entry position. Getting help from your buddy, buddies or the dive team is always the best way to help each other out and support the ones that need it most in the group. Another way is to put the scuba kit in the water, jump in and then put it on while it is buoyed up on the surface. Again your dive buddy can help you get it on if you are new but after a few goes you can easily put your BCD on and off while at the surface. This makes getting out after the dive pretty easy too.
Diving does require a certain level of good health and fitness in general. Participating in regular diving is very good for you, keeps you fit and burns plenty of calories. Being out of breathe while diving is not a good thing and you should slow down if this happens or stop until you regain a normal breathing pattern. This may indicate bad fitness or just that you are going too fast and need to slow down. A good level of fitness also helps, along with other factors, with your air consumption during a dive and breathing control for your buoyancy. Don't overexert while diving, go at your own pace and let your buddies or dive leader know what pace in the water suits you. Most divers no matter who you are will over breathe if overexerted.
Be careful when diving in currents too. Make sure as always you stay within your personal and experience limits at all times and the strength of the current is fully understood. Good procedures and briefing will help to control the effort required during a dive in a current or simply plan to dive with it and enjoy a great drift dive.
Being overwieight does not present an issue unless as said earlier the medical questionnaire presents a problem linked to it. The same can be said for smokers who may think that this may present a problem or indeed any issues that affect your general fitness to go diving. There are millions of divers all over the world that dive safely who are overweight or who have smoked for years, these are not sole issues when deciding being fit to dive.
The general rule is to be honest on the medical questionnaire, try to maintain a level of general good health and fitness overall. Also try not to overdo it and ask for help or dive in places where you can get assistance with getting the scuba equipment on and off or general support from your buddies.