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Scuba Diving Weight Limit, Are You Too Big or too Slim to Scuba?

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Scuba Diving Weight Limit; Are You Too Big or too Slim to Scuba?

Today’s topic is “Scuba Diving Weight Limit”. We found it interesting because bodyweight often raises worries, especially for new divers.

Recently, our information department received an email that said the following:

“I just came from getting the necessary medical check-up to take the Open Water Diver Course. The doctor told me that I am very overweight. I already knew that, but I didn’t know weight can affect my diving. He has signed my medical report, but… is there a weight limit in diving? Should I take any precautions?”

This is not the only question regarding bodyweight limits in diving that we have received: “Can I scuba dive if I am overweight?” “Can obese people scuba dive?” “How much bodyweight is too much to scuba dive?” And the contrary. “Can I scuba dive if I am a skinny person?”

We answer all of them through the following content.

1. Does Scuba Diving Have a Body Weight Limit?

No, there are no scuba diving weight limits. At least, there is no official bodyweight limit.

Diving is an inclusive sport, it can be done by anyone from 13 years old and up regardless of age, weight, or size. So no, it doesn’t matter if you are a very thin person or a fat diver.

We apologize if the expression “fat diver” is a little bit rude, it is not our intention. We use it because it’s what many people use when doing Google searches. They are concerned and we intend to help and calm their uncertainty.

So, the answer to the question “Are there any scuba diving weight limits?” is no, the only limit in diving is your health. When diving with a dive center, you normally have to fill out a medical form as part of the registration process and you must be honest. Your safety is at stake.

 

2. Can obese people Learn to Scuba Dive? And very skinny persons?

We have already seen that there are no scuba diving weight limits. Therefore, no certifying agency will inconvenience you to learn to dive even if you are too thin or excessively thick.

In Dressel Divers, we work with SDI, PADI, CMASSSI, NAUI. IDA, NASDS, YMCA, ACUC, CMAS, y PDIC. None of them have ever asked about the body weight of our students. They do require a medical certificate and to pass a simple swim test.

The test consists of swimming 200 m/ 656 ft at your own pace and maintaining positive buoyancy for 10 minutes without a BCD (Buoyancy Control Device). The student must be physically fit enough to pass this basic test. Are you able to do this? Then go ahead with your certification.

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3. Does your body weight matter when scuba diving?

Okay, we already know there is no rule about scuba diving weight limits. So, you are the decision-maker.

To dive, or not to dive, that’s the question.

Let’s consider a few facts to make the decision properly. You should do it in accordance with your safety and that of your dive buddies.

On the one hand, we know that diving certifications have no expiration date.

On the other hand, according to the State of Obesity report: Better Policies for a Healthier America, published in 2020 by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), the adult obesity rate in the United States is 42.4%.

Other countries have increased rates as well. Moreover, this fat epidemic it is getting worse.

So, if you’ve gained weight recently (like me), you may wonder if that extra weight matters when diving.

But let’s do some more research before we panic. Doctors usually determine whether a person is obese or not by using their Body Mass Index (BMI). They calculate this indicator by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the height. In this way, when a person’s BMI is greater than 25 that is considered overweight; If it is higher than 30, the person is obese.

Nonetheless, this measure does not distinguish between fat and muscle. It is a problem because to be healthy is not about less weight. It is about less fat.

Researches show that excess fat increases the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), type II diabetes, excessive serum cholesterol levels, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. It is these health problems that can make you unfit to dive.

In other words, let a hyperbaric doctor say if your physical conditions are suitable for diving. If he has signed the consent to dive, you can do it.

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4. Is It Safe to Dive If I Am Overweight?

If there is any sport, we, overweight people love, it is scuba diving. Diving we feel light, weightless, relieved and calm. The physical effort is not excessive and on top of that, a lot of calories are lost.

However, we cannot forget that being overweight has drawbacks to your scuba diving performance. Let’s review them and how we overcome them in Dressel Divers.

a. Risk of decompression sickness (DCS)

You are a diver, so you already know why decompression sickness happens:  nitrogen is diluted in your body because of the pressure and it has to be expelled as you ascend. The deeper you dive and the longer you stay under; the more nitrogen accumulates. So far nothing new.

But what you may not know is that fat stores nitrogen better than other tissues and that excess fat can take longer to eliminate it.

This is a problem because both the tables and the dive computer follow the parameters of a person of standard weight. In other words, they do not include the variable excess fat in their parameters, so their calculations about the time you will need to dissolve nitrogen can be wrong.

How do we get around this inconvenience at Dressel Divers?

The first measure is being more conservative with the calculations. We are never going to reach the limits. It gives us a wider margin of action and reduces risks.

Another important aspect is that at Dressel Divers, we offer free Nitrox. When diving with Nitrox, you are using air that contains less nitrogen. Therefore, your body absorbs less of this element.

b. Air Consumption

Another drawback is that oxygenating a larger body volume, as a general rule, requires greater air consumption, unless you have the skills that we cover in this article 10 Technical Diving Tips to Reduce Air Consumption

In Dressel Divers, there is the possibility of ordering larger air cylinders than usual.

c. Physical condition

There is no doubt that if you want to dive, you must be able to perform the physical effort that scuba demands.

Despite being an undemanding sport physically, diving requires some effort. For example: carrying the complete equipment to the boat, swimming on the surface and in the currents, or climbing the boat ladder carrying a tank.

So, we thought seriously about how we could help our clients on these points, and the answer was clear: we do it for you.

Our staff carries the tanks to the boat, so you don’t have to carry them, nor climb the ladders with a cylinder on your back. A member of our crew lifts it out of the water when you have taken it off before going up the ladder.

At Dressel Divers, we do drift dives. So, when the dive is over, the group ascends, and the boat is waiting for them on the surface. In this way, our guests hardly have to swim on the surface or against the current.

scuba diving weight limit

d. Difficulty in finding wetsuits

In Dressel Divers destinations in the Caribbean, the water temperature exceeds 26º all year round, so losing heat in the water, although important, is not as worrying as on other dive sites on the planet.

Moreover, in the case of overweight divers, the fat serves as an insulator. It is not the case for extremely thin people, who are much more prone to heat loss.

However, the wetsuit protects you from other damages, such as chafing, bumps, etc. So, if you don’t find a wetsuit that fits you (small enough or big enough), it is more than likely that you will not be able to dive.

Keep calm, you won’t have that problem at Dressel Divers. We have a wide variety of sizes to serve our customers. Ask us when making reservations.

You may prefer to bring your suit, great! Our facility has a room for you to store it safely between dives.

If you have difficulty finding the right size wetsuit, some brands make them measure. Also, we recommend you to read these articles.

How To Choose Your Correct Wetsuit Size?

The 7 Best Tips for Traveling with Diving Equipment

 

e. Even more weight

Remember that fat floats more than muscle. This means you will need more ballast to descend.

In some cases, this is a disadvantage because of the size of the weight belts. In addition, some are very short and difficult to attach to the waist.

Therefore, it is interesting to have BCDs with integrated weight pockets. In this way, the weight is better distributed, between belt and BCD, and the belts are easier to handle and wear.

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5. When The Doctor Says Yes: Some Tips for Overweight Divers

I am 6ft/ 1.83m tall and weigh 285lbs/129kg. According to the standard definition of obesity in relation to BMI, I am an overweight scuba diver. However, I walk every day, and I am healthy. Yes, I am an overweight diver, but there is no doubt that I am a diver fit to dive. So, I have my tricks.

Because it’s not a matter of weight, it’s a matter of being aware of what I can and can’t do.

– The weight limit in diving is that you feel comfortable diving

My tips for diving more comfortably

  1. I rely on a good dive center with well-trained professional group guides. These guides care for you, so they will talk to you to find out your level of experience and set the limits of the dive. They will also help you ensure that you don’t have to face strong currents and ensure that the dive is as stress-free as possible for you.
  2. I have improved my buoyancy skills. Remember that a large body mass demands more oxygen. So, the better your buoyancy, the less energy you will consume and thus less air.
  3. I have learned to dive with Nitrox. If we can reduce the nitrogen absorbed, all the better, can we?
  4. My navigation skills are better. You will avoid having to swim on the surface and against the current.
  5. I choose easy and calm water dives. In this way, I reduce my physical effort.
  6. The wetsuit is important in the water, but outside it can make you sweat too much, especially if you dive in the Caribbean. Between you and me, I put it on the last minute.

My main advice for obese divers is to be very aware of your weight limits in diving, try to improve them, and in the meantime, adapt to them.

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