Is Snorkeling Safe for Seniors? Risks Over the Age 60


Snorkeling is a very popular recreational activity, mostly done in resorts at tropical locations. It is a center of attraction for people of all ages, young or mature, because of all the alluring sights of the magic the underwater world has to offer.

Despite being a fun and enjoyable activity, snorkeling is quite strenuous and requires physical exertion, thus being unsafe and life-risking for seniors and mature people. For a person over the ripe age of 60, snorkeling can be a risky and dangerous activity.

Risks for People Over the Age of 60

The following factors contribute to the reason why it is so.

Snorkeling Equipment

Workload on heart

For adults over 60, snorkeling can put a lot of workload on the major body organs such as lungs and heart. Snorkeling is a physical practice done through swimming while being equipped with a snorkeling tube, a diving mask, swim fins, and other necessary apparatus.

Swimming is considered as one of the most prime and beneficial ways of physical exertion and can help in weight loss because of the high number of burned calories. Swimming is an aerobic exercise. It increases the body’s need for air as it fires up body muscles more than regular cardio and engages the upper body and core.

There’s restricted oxygen supply to the heart while snorkeling. It is because the oxygen is supplied from the snorkeling tube. Our body needs oxygen to carry out its respiratory function. Without oxygen, body functions aren’t conducted properly.

The blood enters the heart through the pulmonary vein. This deoxygenated blood is pumped to the lungs for oxygenation. After the blood is oxygenated, it is pumped back to the heart, which supplies it to the rest of the body. Since this oxygen supply is restricted while snorkeling, there’s an increased workload on the heart, especially for people above the age of 60.

People of mature age have increased heart risk. This is because the heart’s stiff arteries and blood vessels make it difficult to supply blood to it. Moreover, the narrowing of blood vessels due to increased cholesterol, which is common in people of mature age, leads to a restricted blood supply to and from the heart.

This causes diseases such as hypertension or cardiac arrest. If the body gets a limited oxygen supply, it won’t be able to oxygenate blood properly, thus, increasing the heartbeat and causing duress on the heart to overwork. It can easily lead to stroke or myocardial infarction, which is commonly known as a heart attack.

Release of Adrenaline Due to Panic

Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands of our body. These glands are located on the top of each kidney and produce many hormones that play a significant role in body functioning.

Adrenaline is known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone. This hormone is directly linked to the emotions experienced by us. They are released when we undergo a stressful, frightful, or dangerous situation.

While snorkeling, it is quite easy to panic due to many reasons. If the snorkeler experiences restricted air supply from the snorkeling tube by swallowing water or by just being afraid of water currents, he might feel panicked and afraid. Panicking causes a strong adrenaline rush because it causes our mind to stress or apprehend a frightful situation.

When the body feels panicked, the information is transferred to Amygdala, which is the part of our brain dealing with emotions and activates emotional behavior. This triggers the adrenal gland to increase the production of adrenaline.

The adrenaline rush is our body’s response to panic and such situations. This has many effects on our body, such as inhibiting insulin production, boost in energy levels, stimulating perspiration, etc. These can be positive for us at that moment, but in this case, it can be fatal for people over the age of 60.

High adrenaline levels dilate the pupil and increase heart rate. It also restricts the blood vessels. This situation, when combined together, in effect, can increase hypertension. The increased heart rate makes the heart pump more blood, while restricted blood vessels increase blood pressure in them. The combined effect can cause a stroke or heart attack.

Adrenaline rush in our body is immediate, and its effects are very quick. Our body responds and causes bodily changes accordingly before us comprehending what’s happening. For people of mature age, it can be extremely dangerous.

For adults near or above the age of 60, the combined effect of a panic attack leading to adrenaline rush and workload on the heart can be fatal while performing activities such as snorkeling. At a mature age, people are more prone to diseases, heart risk, bodily harm, or accidents.

If a person experiences a myocardial infarction while in water, his body will become completely unresponsive. The person can, as a result, drown if there is no immediate help available.

Safety Tips

It may all seem very petrifying. However, some precautionary measures can be taken to prevent life risk and make snorkeling enjoyable and safe at the same time.

Snorkeling Over the Age 60

Easy Access

There is no cure to stop panicking or prevent a cardiac arrest or a heart attack from happening. But we can take preventive measures for emergency situations. This will make help come quickly and easily.

Adults over the age of 60 can snorkel but shouldn’t go in deep waters. Deep waters are away from the shoreline, and the water current can be heavy there. High currents can make one panic easily and lose control. Panicking under these circumstances can be extremely dangerous. If an elderly person does experience any sort of trouble, help can be brought immediately without any delay.

Keeping the lifeguard on standby and staying in his eye range can be a source of quick help. Not going too deep in the water and staying near the shallow water will make the oxygen supply easier. Thus, it will put less pressure and workload on the heart.

EKG test

Before going snorkeling, it is advisable to visit your cardiologist first. Discussing your coronary risk factors can be quite fruitful in the long term. Coronary risk factors include heart diseases, such as coronary heart disease. This happens due to the building up of plaque in the coronary artery of the heart.

Plaque buildup in coronary arteries causes the restricted blood supply to the heart. This increases blood pressure and eventually leads up to heart attack. To gauge whether there is any cardiovascular disease, an EKG test may be conducted.

This is a painless procedure in which electrical signals are sent to the heart to measure the frequency of heartbeats. Moreover, the size and position of the heart chambers can be checked through this test.

By conducting an EKG test, it can easily be gauged whether there is any probable heart risk. Heart risks include blocked arteries, irregular heartbeats, heart damage, etc. This procedure can determine whether there is a heart risk involved while performing strenuous activities such as snorkeling.

Plausible heart risks can be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle. Staying healthy by consuming nutritious food, exercising daily, and avoiding fatty and junk food can cause heart risks. Foods higher in calories and oil can lead up to cholesterol buildup in the heart; thus, blocking arteries. This can cause a stroke or myocardial infarction.

Regularly visiting the doctor and keeping heart level and blood sugar levels under control are the best ways to prevent heart attack and other diseases.

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