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What’ll Happen If You Swim Right After Eating?

A girl eats watermelon by a swimming pool.
Tatevosian Yana/Shutterstock.com

Growing up, you might have heard you shouldn’t go in the water after eating. Whether you were given a reason for this waiting period or not, you might still be abiding by it, but should you be?

What will actually happen if you swim right after eating? In most cases, the answer is nothing. For most people swimming after eating is likely harmless. However, there are a few things to consider.

The body’s digestion process is why this myth might have started. When you eat, your body increases blood flow to your organs to help them digest food. The idea is that when blood is diverted to your stomach, your limbs won’t work as well or will cramp.

Now, this is somewhat true, but it’s only in extreme cases of both overeating and overexertion according to Christopher R. Mohr, PhD, RD, who spoke with Well + Good.

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Maybe stick to a pool float for a while if you plan to have a big meal.

For example, if you’re at a cookout and decide to down three grilled hamburgers, a few beers, and a hotdog or two for good measure, going back into the pool immediately is not going to be a good call.

In the same vein, if you plan to do laps in the pool, exercise in the water, or otherwise exert a significant amount of energy, maybe don’t eat a significant meal beforehand. It’s similar to other forms of exercise. Choose foods that will fuel you before a workout but don’t overdo it.

Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN also spoke with Well + Good and explained that those who frequently experience gastrointestinal upset, stomach cramping, or other digestive issues should also consider waiting. Because of existing conditions, they might be more inclined to discomfort if swimming immediately after a meal.

If you’ll be attempting any beach or poolside cookouts this summer and plan to do a bit of swimming while there, for the most part, go ahead and dive back into the pool as soon as you feel like it.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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