Ingrid Eftedal, Ph.D.: Diving is associated with environmental factors that affect the cardiovascular system, and as long as the total amount of physiological stress is limited and the diver is reasonably fit, no data indicate that diving is harmful to the cardiovascular system. In addition to the health-promoting effects of exercise, one may speculate that diving could have additional benefits for the heart. It has been known for some time that breathing high amounts of oxygen activates an important type of proteins known as molecular chaperones (for historical reasons they are sometimes called heat shock proteins). Some of these molecular chaperones directly protect the heart from injury; extra oxygen is sometimes administered to patients before heart surgery for this reason.
Dawn Kernagis, Ph.D.: Scuba diving can be a fantastic way to burn calories, with a recreational dive burning an estimated 300 to 600 calories per hour depending on temperature and activity level. Although most recreational diving can be very relaxing while still involving increased activity and low levels of joint stress, which is beneficial to individual health, some forms of diving can be strenuous and could put an individual with predisposing conditions at potential risk of injury or incident. It's important to remember that physical fitness is a major factor in determining potential risk with any form of increased physical activity, so risk associated with increased activity will largely depend on a diver's overall physical condition.