Can you scuba dive if you’re overweight?

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Can you scuba dive if you’re overweight?

Can you scuba dive if you’re overweight?

You can absolutely go scuba diving if you’re overweight, however any professional will tell you that diving is a lot more enjoyable if you’re in good shape.

Overweight people can go through an official diving program which outlines how to properly support their weight underwater so as not to put too much stress on their joints or cause problems with decompression sickness (DCS) during ascents.

Some scuba diving companies and certification agencies even require that a person’s body fat percentage be less than 30% for them to participate in their programs, however this is the exception and not the rule.

As an experienced diver, I would strongly recommend that you look to lose wight prior to diving to ensure you have the most optimum experience you possible can. There are already things that people worry about during diving, and you don’t want to be complicating that with potential problems that being overweight could cause.


How does being overweight affect the way you scuba dive?

As above, whilst you can still scuba dive and be overweight, there are specific issues that can arise. Here are a few of the more common ones that I’ve seen first-hand:

  • Shoulder/hip/joint pain caused by the increased overall weight is very common. Overweight divers tend to feel more pressure on their joints during finning. Since you come up with this extra weight at the end of your dive, some people will even favour standing up out of the water instead of trying to climb back into a boat or pier because it’s just that uncomfortable having all that extra weight dragging them down.


  • Some overweight divers have noticed problems with equalizing their ears. This isn’t really an “issue”, so much as something they wish they had known before getting certified so they could have adjusted accordingly. Several experienced buddies have reported instances where overweight divers either cannot equalize their ears at all, or take much longer to do so.


  • As for decompression sickness, anecdotally it does seem to be more of an issue with overweight divers. It may not be anything specifically related to being overweight itself, but more likely is that they simply are exercising more caution when diving due to the health issues associated with having a high BMI.


Final thoughts on diving if you’re overweight or classed as obese

The points above relating to specific courses and issues are rare, however, I feel that they need to be outlined just so that you know exactly what you’re getting into, and so that if something does happen, it’s not a surprise.

Having said that, sticking with a reputable diving school will ensure that you’re in safe hands when it comes to learning properly, and it’s unlikely that a school would say no to teaching you just because of your weight.

Whilst I have heard cases of it happening, the hard and fast rule tells me that you’ll be fine. Just be sure to communicate with your instructor prior to a course or a lesson if you have any issues relating to your weight and how it relates to diving.