You were often told as a child not to go swimming for at least 30 minutes after eating. You would get a stomach ache and your fun day at the swimming pool would be ruined. One rumor suggests that you will even drown if you don’t wait long enough for jumping back into the swimming pool. However, are these rumors actually true? Is it bad to swim after you eat? Scientists finally have an answer, and it might be different than what you’ve always believed.
Where Did The Story Start?
It was once believed that if you went swimming after eating, the pylorus—the gate between the stomach and intestines—would cramp up, swell, and prevent swimmers from staying afloat. You would eventually drown. Because of this, parents began telling their children not to go swimming after they ate. They also told them they’ll get a stomach cramp.
But is any of this true?
It’s Not Likely
It takes about four hours for your stomach to digest food. During this process, both oxygen and energy are devoted to digesting the food, taking the attention away from other bodily functions. It’s not likely you will develop a stomach cramp, regardless of when you last ate.
And don’t worry. Even if you do happen to get a stomach ache, you’re not going to drown. The old wives’ tale suggests that the digestive process increases blood flow to the stomach and away from the muscles while you swim—increasing the likelihood of drowning. This isn’t true. You won’t drown.
Use Common Sense
The American Red Cross recommends people to use common sense when it comes to swimming after eating. If you still feel “full” after eating, wait just a while longer before hopping back in the pool.
The same with regular exercise, engaging in strenuous activity after eating can result in small cramps, nausea, and more. But for the most part, you don’t have to wait 30 minutes before swimming. Use your own judgment and you’ll be just fine.