Before you go in the water, be aware of your health limits and current fitness level. Francesco Faconti/
Before you go in the water, be aware of your health limits and current fitness level.
Francesco Faconti/

Being in the ocean is more physically demanding on your body than swimming in a pool, pond, river or creek. Anyone intending to snorkel, swim or participate in other water activities should be an experienced ocean swimmer familiar with the risks and dangers associated with high surf, strong currents, and waves breaking in shallow water.

It is also important to know your current health and fitness condition before going into the ocean. Certain individuals have a higher risk of injury when participating in any kind of physical activity, including ocean-related activities.

If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, or if you have health issues or concerns, talk to your doctor before you participate in any ocean activity.

Check with your doctor first if you have:

  • Heart disease or stroke
  • High blood pressure, or a resting blood pressure of 160/90 mmHg or higher
  • Asthma or other lung disease

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes

  • Kidney disease

  • Arthritis

  • Cancer, or have recently completed cancer treatment

You should also check with your doctor if you have experienced the following symptoms:

  • Pain, discomfort or pressure in your chest during physical activity or at rest

  • Pain in your neck, jaw, or arms during physical activity

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Shortness of breath while at rest

  • Rapid or pronounced heartbeat

  • Heart murmur

Even if you have not experienced the above, you should consult your doctor before participating in an ocean activity if any of the following apply:

  • You’re 35 years of age or older

  • You have a family history of heart disease before age 60

  • You smoke or have quit smoking in the past six months

  • You don’t normally exercise for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week

  • You’re overweight

  • You have high cholesterol

  • You have prediabetes

If you are unsure of your health or fitness level, have other health problems or are pregnant or may be pregnant, speak with your doctor before participating in any ocean activity. It’s always safest to know before you go.


More Ocean Safety

Know Your Limits Checklist

List of Lifeguarded Beaches

Ocean Hazards: Strong Currents

Ocean Hazards: Dangerous Shorebreak

Beach Warning Signs

Safety In the Ocean

Snorkeling Safety

Beach Safety for Families

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Honolulu Ocean Safety Division
Kauai County Ocean Safety