Scuba diving can be a lot of fun and have a number of health benefits, including burning up to 500 calories per hour, improving cardiovascular fitness, strengthening muscles, and providing relaxation and stress relief. However, it's not a sport that you can just jump right into on a whim. People need to become certified before they can go on any open water scuba dives. There are a few things you should take into consideration before signing up for scuba lessons.
Accreditation of the Scuba Training Program
While there are a number of places you can take lessons to get certified in scuba diving, it's best to find one that's accredited by either the World Recreational Scuba Training Council or run by members of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, or PADI. These are two well-respected organizations, so your scuba certification should be accepted anywhere around the world if the training program is run by one of them.
Unfortunately, it does take a little bit of time to get scuba certified. Scuba lessons vary slightly in length, depending on how the program is run, but they take at least two to three days and around 35 hours. For the type of certification that doesn't require you to dive with a PADI professional and allows you to go more than 40 feet deep, you need to participate in five sessions of classroom work, five dives in a pool and four dives in open water. This will give you an Open Water Diver certification. The more restrictive Scuba Diver certification basically cuts this number in half, with just three classroom lessons and three dives in the pool and two dives in open water.
Cost of Certification and Equipment
Scuba diving isn't an inexpensive hobby. The certification itself can vary widely in price, averaging around $350 to $450, and then you need to worry about the cost of dive equipment. Just getting fins, a mask, and a snorkel can cost around $150 to $200, but getting an entire set of equipment can cost over $1,000. Of course, you don't need to purchase all of your own equipment, as many places offer this equipment for rent. Finally, it's necessary to pay for the boat to take you out and wait while you dive, which could be another $75 or more per two tank dive.
Potential Risks of Scuba
As with most sports, there are some risks involved with scuba diving. These include not being noticed by motor boats and injured this way, as well as potential risks from not surfacing correctly or equipment that isn't working properly. These include oxygen toxicity, decompression sickness and nitrogen narcosis. Getting the proper training and taking precautions can greatly minimize these risks, however.
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