Is diving a viable way to lose weight? Are the calories burned during scuba diving sufficient enough to count as working out? Diving is often referred to as a ‘lazy sport’ as we rely on our buoyancy to hover in the water and we use minimal movements underwater to conserve our air consumption. Part of the recommended safe diving practices is to do as little as possible during and after your dive. So how many calories are actually burned during scuba diving?

Scuba Diving and Health

Being in good physical fitness is something most avid divers strive for. It is in the course material for professional diver training to maintain an active lifestyle and stay fit as well as eating a healthy and balanced diet. This is because being unhealthy, out of shape and overweight can increase the risks of decompression sickness.

Calories Burned During Scuba Diving

It will depend on what type of dive you do. Since most of us try to avoid strenuous dives in extreme conditions such as strong currents, extreme cold etc. these are not the numbers we are going to focus on.

But even a normal, easy dive can burn a significant amount of calories.

You will be engaging your core, glute and back muscles when you learn how to streamline your body into a ‘trim position’ to move efficiently through the water. You will also be kicking from the hip, moving your whole leg up and down when using your fins properly. This is working out your body from head to toe during a dive.

PADI estimates that diving for one hour in temperate water can burn up to 600 calories.

In warm, tropical waters the calories burned when scuba diving drop to as little as 300 calories per hour.

We can also consider the out-of-water benefits of diving. Lifting scuba tanks, putting on weights and carrying dive equipment can be compared to lifting weights and doing squats in the gym.

Does Being Cold Burn More Calories?

Temperature is a huge factor when calculating how many calories you burn when scuba diving. Your body seeks to keep a core temperature of 37°C / 98°F, this means in colder waters your body is working harder to keep you warm, meaning you burn more calories. The body’s metabolic functions are increased in order to produce heat. In addition, water draws heat away from us about 20-25 times as fast as air. Therefore, even in tropical water which is still cooler than our body temperature, our body is working in order to prevent cooling down.

To compare these numbers, 600 calories an hour is about the same as jogging and 300 calories an hour is comparable to hiking.

Dive Trips as a Weight-Loss Strategy?

Liveaboards, such as The Junk in Thailand, often conduct 3 dives a day with an optional night dive. These trips are known to be; eat, dive, sleep, then repeat. Scuba divers love to snack often in between dives during these Liveaboard trips and rightfully so.

Partaking in a 4 dive day trip in the tropics adds up to about 1200 calories. The same trip in temperate waters will burn up to 2400 calories a day! The recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2000 and women 1500. This means you burn more than your recommended daily intake.

This is only counting what you burn during the dive and not additional calories burned during logistical activities around scuba diving. Being on a boat, spending time outside in the sun, lifting tanks, preparing equipment, climbing onto the boat after the dives, surface swims, etc.

The Final Word

In fact, calories burned during scuba diving are considerable enough for Men’s Journal to consider them a viable workout option. When on a diving trip and partaking in multiple dives a day that beer at the end of the day can be enjoyed guilt-free. And those cookies during the surface interval. The best part about diving and burning those calories is that you don’t even realize that you are actually exercising!