There has been much said recently in the diving press about the importance to divers of ensuring they recognise the need to take responsibility for their fitness to dive. Age does seem to be an emerging factor in relation to diving fatalities over recent years. Cumming and Watson (2016) in reviewing diving incidents in the UK in 2015 note, ‘Diver age and potential related health and fitness issues are still featuring and may be critical factors in this and recent years’ fatalities’.
While diving includes a broad age range of people, the emergence of the sport over recent decades means that many divers are now reaching middle age and, therefore, are subject to the aging process as much as we all try and deny it. As we age, we are naturally subject to wear and tear and for men from around the age of 45 years and women from around 55 years, it does appear that we are at a greater risk of the development in particular of coronary heart disease and its subsequent risk factors related to blood flow.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, many people continue to dive into older age very safely. Older divers tend to take fewer risks and they tend to obey the rules. And there are things we can do to ensure we dive safety as club members and dive buddies. These include having regular check-ups and taking advantage of screening tests that are now available from the age of 40 years from the NHS visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/nhs-health-check/Pages/NHS-Health-Check.aspx for more.
As important is keeping fit through regular exercise thus ensuring your heart and general muscle strength are the best they can be. It is important to remember too, that chronological age can be markedly different from one’ s physiological age, the reason for this is often life-style based. One of my running friends was 75 years old last month, his current half marathon time is still better than mine has ever been! Younger divers too must take responsibility for their own health, well-being and fitness levels as much as older divers because we all rely upon one another when we are diving. So, what can you do to ensure you are as fit as you can be as a diver for 2017? Take up screening opportunities, manage your health conditions effectively with your medical practitioner, cut down on smoking, lose weight, try to build exercise into your life not just for the new year but throughout 2017 and beyond.
Your club’s weekly pool session provides you with a great opportunity to start to build regular exercise into your life when not scuba training. So come on in buddies, the water is warm, start to get some decent lengths under your weight belt!
Cumming, B. & Watson, J. (2016) National Diving Committee: Diving Incident Report 2016 British Sub Aqua Club.
Written by Ruby Oates, Mansfield and District Scuba Diving Club