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Scuba divers urged to watch weight

Friday July 27th, 2018

Scuba diving might seem a healthy hobby – but many enthusiasts put themselves at risk by neglecting their health, according to a major new study.

A greater proportion of divers is overweight compared with the general population – while middle-aged divers fail to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol levels found.

The findings, reported in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, come from an analysis of health surveys in the USA involving nearly 736 million people, of whom 113,892 named scuba diving as their main leisure activity.

The researchers warn that the number of diving fatalities linked to cardiac issues is increasing – as are the proportion involving people over the age of 50. In 2015 there were 181 deaths involving recreational diving.

The researchers found that 48% of divers over the age of 50 were overweight compared with 43% of other over-50s. Rates of hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia were similar among divers and non-divers.

Researcher Dr Peter Buzzacott, of the University of Western Australia, in Australia, said: “Never before in history have so many people been exposing themselves to these extraordinary environmental stresses and, for the first time ever, we now have a large number of people who have spent their entire lives regularly scuba diving.

“None of us are as young as we once were and it is important that we stay in shape for diving. The father of scuba, Jacques Cousteau, was diving at 90 and the current world’s oldest diver is 94. He looks like he's in great shape and that is the role model for us all if we want to keep diving into our senior years. I certainly do.”

Tags: Australia | Fitness | Heart Health | North America

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