Scuba Diving is not usually associated with fitness or working out.  However, after diving for almost 3 years, I have discovered how scuba diving promotes fitness and can be a sport to keep you in shape while on holiday or traveling the world.  Underwater diving can be a great sport that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Most divers, however, will say that even after they strap all this weight to their body, swim for an hour and then haul themselves and all their equipment out of the water and onto a boat, they are not working THAT hard.  I beg to differ!


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I discovered Scuba Diving when I was living in Malaysia.  My brother is a diver and became certifies as an instructor many years ago.  I always loved the water, enjoyed snorkeling and learning about sea life but never took the plunge to get my PADI certification.  It was until I moved to Malaysia that I realized I was living in one of the best parts of the world for scuba diving and I would be crazy not to explore diving.  I got certified in 2014 and have never looked back. Scuba diving has become a passion and a hobby and I have enjoyed the sport immensely.  One of the things I enjoy most about it is that through my fitness journey to losing weight, gaining muscle and increasing my mobility is that it goes hand in hand with becoming a better scuba diver.




One of my least favorite parts of scuba diving is getting on all of the equipment!  Here is a breakdown of the average weight of your equipment once you have put it all on.

Wetsuit – 1-2 kg

There is a huge variety of wet suits on the market.  The type of thickness of your wet suit really depends on the location of the dive, temperature of the dive and what’s available at the dive shop.

If you are diving in South East Asia, you will usually be wearing a “shorty” wetsuit or a full wetsuit of 3mm – 5mm.  A shorty wetsuit just means that it stops at your knees whereas a full wetsuit is fitted all the way down to your ankles.  It would be rare to not have to wear a wetsuit at all and it really would depend on the temperature of the water.

BCD (BuoncyControl Device) – 2.5 – 3 kg

Your BCD is your inflatable vest that helps to control your buoncy underwater.  This piece of equipment is not heavy on its own but can be a bulky and awkard thing to put on – once underwater it’s almost weightless!  Your BCD also is inflatable which means that you can add or remove air depending on your buoncy underwater.

Regulator (First Stage + Second Stage + Monometer + Octopus) – 1 -2 kg

The regulator is a fairly light weight piece of scuba diving equipment and only contribute about 1-2kg of total weight once everything is put on.  The regulator is an important piece of equipment because it allows you to breathe!  The regulator attaches to the tank and travels through your BCD and is fitted in to give you a more streamlined feel under water.  The regulator and octopus are not difficult to grab on to underwater and they are strapped in nice and tight for comfort.

Fins + Mask – 1.5kg

Your fins and mask are not a particulary heavy piece of equipment at all.  In fact, they are probably your lightest.  The only thing you have to worry about is making sure you don’t forget them as they are just as important as your regulator, BCD and air tanks!  Imagine going underwater without your mask or fins?! This would not be a good thing!

Weight Belt – depends (0 kg – 5kg)

The number of weights that an individual takes on their weight belt really depends on many factors.  Firstly, if a diver is inexperienced they might take more weight down on their weight belt to help them stay down and have better buoyancy.  If the diver is overweight, they also might need more weight, because they will be more negatively buoyant.  Each dive shop has different weights and you will need to know from experience how much you need.

Important Tip!
Always check if they use pounds or kilograms! This could make a huge difference!
Air Tank – about 15kg, but it depends.

The weight of the air tank will depend on if it is made of aluminium or steel.

28.5kg – or 60lbs.



If you have been scuba diving before you will understand that after doing 1-3 dives in a given day, you are absolutely exhausted!  Not only are you really tired, but you are also really hungry!  There is a reason for that.  Scuba diving causes you to expend a lot of energy underwater.   Just think about it.  You are strapping all that weight on your back and then swimming for up to one hour, then hauling yourself back onto the boat to get the gear off.  What exactly is your body going through underwater to get such a workout?


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1. Temperature Regulation

Your body is working really hard underwater to regulate its temperature.  As you descend, you are entering cooler temperatures and your body is doing a lot of work to warm itself up.  This might explain one of the reasons why you are usually so tired after even just one dive, let alone 2-3 dives in one day.  As the body tries to regulate its temperature it is burning calories as it does so even when you don’t really feel like you are!

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2. Continuous Movement

The very fact that you are moving, albite at a slow pace for up to an hour, is a recipe for burning calories.  The very act of using your fins and legs in such a way to move forward is burning calories and sometimes you are actually having to swim quite hard.  This would be true even in ideal situations like no current but the reality is that most dives have current which can mean you are working even harder and burning more calories.

Did You Know?
The 2011 Compendium of Physical Activity gave Scuba Diving a score of 7.0 which puts it on the same level as brisk walking, canoeing, and general swimming.



Breathing compressed air which has higher levels of oxygen is different than breathing above water.  Scuba divers are always told to breathe slowly and breathe deeply underwater.  This is mainly to conserve air but it also helps you to relax more and enjoy the dive.  By breathing slower and deeper you are increasing your lung capacity and you’re strengthening your respiratory system.

Benefits to Breathing Longer & Deeoer
  • Able to endure longer cardio exercises above land
  • Can run longer distances without tiring out too soon
  • Improve overall fitness when attempting all forms of exercise



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There are a number of ways that you can get in better shape for scuba diving.

  • Keeping a continuous fitness regime on land

  • Try going to the gym more, running and participating in medium to long cardio sessions.

  • Sleep consistent hours.

  • Drink lots of water and stay hydrated (also because you are in the sun for long periods of time).

  • Quit smoking

  • Avoid sleeping in air conditioning the days before diving so that you aren’t congested.



scuba diving / scuba tanks / scuba fitness / PADI / underwater diving


Sometimes it’s ok to be a bit lazy and enjoy sunsets like this after a long and physically demanding day of diving!



6 Easy Exercises to Keep You Fit for Diving by PADI

6 Reasons Why Scuba Divers Are Fitter Than You Are by Book Your Dive

Do You Have To Be Fit To Enjoy Scuba Diving?  by Hawaii Eco Divers



I would be thrilled to connect with you on my social media channels.  You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  I post photos, articles, and inspiration for staying fit while traveling.


Do you find underwater diving a good workout? How do you stay in great shape for scuba diving?

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scuba diving / scuba tanks / scuba fitness / PADI / underwater diving

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Tim Gascoigne is a Canadian, full-time traveler/nomad who has found a love of fitness and how to combine this with living a life of purpose and freedom.  Tim writes at One Fit Nomad and shares content on Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter.  Crossfit is his favorite form of fitness and he likes to write about how you can live the life you want while being the best version of yourself.  Tim has been a fulltime teacher in schools in Canada, Beijing & Malaysia for 10 years and is currently taking time off to see the world & hopefully create meaning for others.


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