Fit to scuba dive

"Do I need to be fit to scuba dive?"

This is a question you may be curious about if are new to scuba diving or have experienced changes in your health and fitness. On first glance, it seems like a simple enough question. However, it's a little more complex than that and not always easy to find the answers. Finding out whether you are fit to scuba dive is an important topic, so let's break it down here.

"Fit for what?"

Scuba diving is a broad term. It's like saying are you fit to go mountaineering? Well, that depends - do you mean a half-day walk up a small hill, or do you want to tackle Everest? Some types of diving are accessible to a wide range of abilities, some do require higher levels of performance. However, there are some conditions that are exclusions for diving, or need approval from a physician. Perhaps not ones you would expect, read more on this below.

  • Assess your medical fitness to dive, if there is any doubt or you have health or mobility concerns, seek professional medical opinion. In many cases dive operators will require evidence/statement of fitness to dive.

  • Check out the type of diving you want to do. What are the conditions like? Temperature, access to the site, water movement and visibility.

  • Consider what support you may need and whether that is available. Research the options for help with learning, planning, or physical assistance.

  • Be aware of safety procedures and risk management. There are limits on depth, over-head environments, etc. that are there to help divers avoid situations that are unsafe for them.

What is fitness?

Being fit to scuba dive is not just physical

  • Emotional Fitness

    Diving can be relaxing & even therapeutic. But it has it's challenges: human stuff like anxiety & fear can be an issue sometimes. Being emotionally fit to manage stress, respond to social and communication issues helps.

  • Physical Fitness

    Sometimes diving involves rolling out of a hammock into the water. Other times it is harder than that. One of the leading causes of death in scuba divers is poor cardiac health and fitness. Being fit enough for the conditions you are diving is important.

  • Mental Fitness

    There's lots to learn in scuba diving, it's one of the attractions! Being able to remember and perform skills as a diver helps us to stay safe. We also benefit from mental processes to solve problems and handle stress.


If your question is missing, let us know via the contact link.

  • I have a health or mobility condition, how can I find out whether I'm fit to scuba dive?

    Seek medical advice. Also be aware that diving medicine is a specialist discipline, so it will often be advisable to ask a doctor with knowledge of dive medicine. You can also contact the Divers Alert Network. In the UK, DDRC offers an advice line and a helpful set of "Can I dive with ... ?" answers:

  • Can scuba diving help to overcome a mental health issue?

    There may be various therapeutic aspects of scuba diving in terms of improving confidence, self-worth and ability to regulate stress. There is also evidence of it helping with post-traumatic stress. However, scuba diving a challenging activity that is not without risks. First seek medical advice regarding current fitness to dive (you'll notice this is covered on the Diver Medical form). Depending on your individual case it could be you can access usual dive services, or may need additional support from services that provide scuba diving as a therapeutic activity. It may also be that your mental health issue means you are not currently fit to dive. In which case, consider addressing this before diving. You can find more information about psychological support for scuba divers under the "services" tab above.

Medically fit to scuba dive

Check your fitness to dive.

The international Diver Medical Screen Committee (DMSC) developed a screening and assessment system for recreational divers worldwide. In many cases this is the form you will be asked to provide when you dive, particularly when taking courses. The form is available in a range of languages via the link below. (Select your language in the first box to get the form).