When it comes to scuba diving, it doesn’t really matter how old you are but how healthy and fit you are.
“There is no age limit for scuba diving. Studies have shown a person’s physiological age (how well or poorly the body is functioning), not chronological age is an important factor in determining if a person is fit to learn scuba diving,” says Universiti Malaya Medical Centre’s Sports Medicine (UMMC) head of department Associate Prof Dr Mohd Nahar Azmi Mohamed.
Dr Mohd Nahar says that because scuba diving can be a challenging activity and a “gear-intensive” sport , seniors must ensure they are physical fit before attempting to scuba dive.
“Divers over 45 must obtain medical clearance before signing up for scuba lessons. Seniors must have a good fitness level score in cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal and other fitness tests.”
Conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are among other concerns that could cause complications during diving.
“Swimming is considered an aerobic form of exercise. And, carrying the weight of diving equipment will cause an increased resistance to their movement. This can make it a physically demanding activity, especially for seniors,” he shares.
He also advises seniors to adhere to diving safety instructions when on a dive.
“It is important that they carry safety equipment like a marine whistle, signaling mirror and safety light. Don’t forget to take a break after several days of continuous, multiple dives per day. Muscle weakness and joint stiffness are among the problems among senior citizens. Eye sight problems, and poor balance may also contribute to an increased risk of injury among people of this age group.”
n the last 10 years, there has been a continued growth of Malaysians, including seniors citizens, getting their diving certification, says Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) regional manager (Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei) Neil Davidson.
Many of the country’s seniors dive instructors, he says, are those who obtained their accreditation over the years.
“Over time, they have become senior citizens while still being active diving instructors. Malaysia is lucky to have a great depth of experienced PADI members who are still keen to create new divers whatever their age. You are never too old to enjoy the amazing marine life that Malaysia has to offer. It can become addictive and a great way to bring you closer to nature and can also become a family activity,” he says.
As a safety measure, Davidson explained, all divers must complete the Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) Medical form with information about their medical history, if any.
“If there are any medical concerns, they must be signed off by a diving physician. The form does also include an extra section for people aged over 45,” he says.